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Both the St. Louis-Post Dispatch and the St. Louis Business Journal recently have published articles on Missouri’s declining state revenues and the ambitious agenda of Governor-elect Nixon. Briefly Mr. Nixon is planning to expand health care for the poor, increase funding for education, and decrease taxes for senior citizens. He plans to do all of these without increasing taxes while state revenues decline due to the nation-wide recession. Although Missouri has a reported budget surplus of 833 million dollars, 300 million dollars has been obligated by the General Assembly. With inflation and recession, this surplus will evaporate rapidly.
Recently State Senator Joan Bray spoke to the Clayton-Ladue Rotary Club. She pointed out that over 60% of the state’s budget is obligated by federal and state regulations and cannot be reduced by the General Assembly. Discretionary items in the state’s budget, those items that can be reduced by the General Assembly, are primarily limited to education and social services. These programs are already at minimum funding levels for a state the size of Missouri.
An alternative is for Governor-elect Nixon and the Republican controlled General Assembly to call for a moratorium on tax reductions and any additional funding increases for state programs and services. This is necessary until the recession is over and state revenues improve.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Lowe "Sandy" MacLean is vice chancellor emeritus, University of Missouri, St. Louis, and is active in local political and community organizations, including the Grand Order of Pachyderms (GOP), a service organization for the Republican Party.