- Each Missouri citizen has the right to pay for health care services with their own money,
- Health care providers may accept direct payment for services rendered by Missouri citizens,
- The purchase and sale of health insurance shall not be prohibited by law or rule, and;
- No person will be required to pay fines or penalties if they choose to purchase their own health care and accept payment for providing health care services.
Give Liberty a Chance!
And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgement of faith in God and His works.
- Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1850
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
This week the Missouri House debated three separate proposed constitutional amendments.
HJR86 – Right to Raise Animals
Upon voter approval, this constitutional amendment, in order to protect Missouri's agricultural economy, affirms the right of Missouri citizens to raise domestic animals in a humane manner without the state imposing an undue economic burden on their owners. No law criminalizing or regulating crops or the welfare of domesticated animals will be valid unless based upon generally accepted scientific principles and enacted by the General Assembly. The resolution will not prohibit or limit the right of a city or county to enact ordinances and will not invalidate a state law that makes it a crime to grow a crop that has been declared a controlled substance.
HJR76 – Birds, Fish, Game, Wildlife, or Forestry Resources
Upon voter approval, this proposed constitutional amendment requires a four-sevenths majority for voter approval of initiative petitions relating to harvesting bird, fish, game, wildlife, or forestry resources. Initiative petitions that establish, amend, or repeal sales taxes for conservation purposes will still require only a simple majority approval.
HJR48, 50, & 57 – Health Care Freedom Act
Upon voter approval, this proposed constitutional amendment prohibits any person, employer, or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system. Individuals and employers may pay directly for lawful health care services without being subject to fines or penalties, and health care providers can accept payment for health care services from individuals or employers without being subject to fines or penalties. The purchase or sale of health care insurance in private health care systems cannot be prohibited by law or rule.
Also, this week the dark cloud of declining revenues grew darker. The February revenue collections are getting worse, not better, with February collections being down from last year by 14.6% bringing our year-to-date revenue collections down to a negative 12.7%. I have written extensively on my doubts that Missouri’s revenue picture would improve and that the Governor’s recommended budget was too optimistic along with the consensus revenue estimate, which now appears will have to be lowered.
The significance of the shortfall in revenue that we face this year, and next, cannot be underestimated. This is the time when the Governor, the House, and the Senate must work together to fix the structural problems in our state budget. This will require very difficult decisions, courage, and realism – it is not a time for gamesmanship and politicizing. We can no longer hope that better times will come. State government must live within its means just like the rest of us.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
This week, the Missouri House passed legislation which prevents drug-users from receiving welfare benefits. The legislation calls for the Department of Social Services (DSS) to establish a drug-testing program for work-eligible applicants and recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This is a cash-aid program and currently has NO restrictions for those who may use illegal substances. If passed and signed by the Governor,
The legislation says that to be tested, there must be "reasonable suspicion" to believe a person is using illegal drugs. After an administrative hearing, applicants or recipients who test positive will be declared ineligible for benefits for one year.
This legislation is long over-due. Most employees, including the military and federal employees, are required to take a mandatory drug test. Why shouldn’t welfare recipients who receive support from OUR hard earned tax dollars be held to the same standard?
The bill also directs the department to develop, implement, and enforce a policy requiring the immediate termination of an employee who fails to report any suspected illegal use of a controlled substance or fraud of the TANF Program by any applicant or recipient of TANF benefits.
In addition, the bill also subjects elected officials to a drug test prior to taking office and once every two years after that while they remain in office.
This legislation will help encourage people using drugs to stop and get help. It is a necessary intervention. If people want to receive welfare benefits, they have to be drug-free. The Senate needs to pass this bill and the Governor should sign it. This legislation will begin to help and enable our citizens to live a clean and productive lives rather than harming themselves and those around them.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Last week Governor Jay Nixon delivered the annual State of the State address to the Missouri General Assembly, the Missouri Supreme Court, Missouri Cabinet heads, and to the people of our great state.
This annual address has become the vehicle for a governor to outline his vision for
This year’s State of the State address did none of that. In fact, Governor Nixon dodged revealing the actual state of the state and it is now painfully obvious why after he has revealed his proposed budget to the General Assembly.
As I mentioned in a previous column, the Governor, House, and Senate budget leaders have agreed upon the revised consensus revenue estimate for the remainder of this fiscal year which ends on June 30, 2010 predicting that revenues will be 6.4% less than expected at $6.97 billion in general revenue. The fiscal year 2010 budget was passed based upon an overly optimistic revenue estimate of $7.76 billion.
They also agreed upon the consensus revenue estimate for the next budget year which begins on July 1, 2010 suggesting a growth in state general revenue collections of 3.5% resulting in $7.223 billion of general revenue.
It was revealed this week that January revenues are 22.36% less than they were in January of last year with year to date revenue collections now falling to a negative 12.55% down from 10.5% last month year to date. As a result, Governor Nixon announced another round of withholds from the current budget of $74 million.
Unlike Congress, we must have a balanced budget. The state of Missouri can’t print money to satisfy unrestrained and politically motivated spending habits – even in an election year. To have a balanced budget, the General Assembly and the governor’s office must build a state budget at or, preferably, below that target.
Governor Nixon’s budget proposal would spend $8.317 billion of general revenue, a number that exceeds the agreed upon CRE by $1.09 billion, or 15% - this is not a balanced budget proposal. The governor would pay for these excessive increases with federal “stimulus” money, which I contend is federal “dependence” money, which Missouri is expected to receive which is about $900 million dollars plus a phantom $300 million that might come from the federal government even though the legislation has not been passed by Congress yet.
After years of fiscal discipline, a budget is now being proposed that relies on significant one-time monies that may or may not materialize. Our budget difficulties earlier this decade stemmed from uncontrolled spending that relied on one-time monies. This can’t be done, but politicians are often afraid of making the difficult decisions that require discipline, because they fear unpopularity, especially in an election year like this one.
The disciplined decisions of the past few years have put Missouri in better financial position to weather this economic downturn than most states. Missouri remains one of only seven states that still have a triple-A bond ratings from the three major bond rating agencies.
The proposed budget suggests that $900 million of one-time monies be used to pay for ongoing operating costs of government and its programs. This money will not be available next year. It may be considered good politics by some, but it is lousy fiscal policy. We can’t allow the federal “stimulus” to lead us down the path to ever more federal dependency and greater threats to the pocketbooks of Missourians.
Data released this week claim that unemployment may drop to 9.8% this year, down from the current 10% unemployment rate. The data also suggests that with 5% growth in GDP throughout the year, unemployment would only drop to 9%.
How out of touch with our existing economic situation can we be to accept a budget that requires a 15% more general revenue knowing that we are currently experiencing 9.6% unemployment in Missouri? It just won’t happen – even the 3.5% CRE is too high and is setting us up for even bigger budget problems next year and years after.
This is a time for restraint, a time to prioritize, and a time to drive efficiencies into the state bureaucracy. It is a time to shed the hindrances that hold back innovation and invention, a time to empower Missourians to build dreams, not sustain them where they are.
People are outraged with the unparalleled and unabated spending spree in Washington, DC that denies the economic realities that we live in. Missouri cannot, and must not, follow in those footsteps.
This is a time when doing what is right is far more important than doing what is popular and hiding our actual state of the state. We can’t spend time building castles in the sky and hoping for a miracle. Lest we forget, hope is not a plan.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
As the national debate on health care continues in
Even before the events in
The essence of the proposed constitutional amendment is this, “To preserve the freedom of citizens of this state to provide for their health care, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly or through penalties or fines, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.”
The proposed amendment ensures that:
· Health care providers may accept direct payment for services rendered by
· The purchase and sale of health insurance shall not be prohibited by law or rule, and;
· No person will be required to pay fines or penalties if they choose to purchase their own health care and accept payment for providing health care services.
In other words, an individual cannot be forced to participate in a health care system without their consent and that individuals have the freedom to participate.
Think about it, there are two general obligations for citizenship in
We can have the debate about whether it is responsible for someone to go without health insurance, but that is a completely different conversation than saying that every citizen must, by the force of law, purchase health insurance or enroll in a government program thereby binding them to the will of faceless bureaucrats.
Some argue that such an amendment to a state constitution is unconstitutional. They argue that the supremacy clause of the US Constitution trumps state actions. It is time that we consider another constitutional principle, that of federalism. As a constitutional principle, it is important not only to the appropriate division of powers between the federal government and the states, but also the ever important pursuit of individual liberty and limited government.
Traditionally, states have been considered laboratories of democracy and innovation. The states were able, even expected, to develop policies reflecting the widely varying local conditions of our great land, and that is especially important in health care. Today, the federal government is asserting, if not amassing, it’s authority over the American life in regards to health care, imposing a "one size fits all" policy. Now is the time to reassert the proper constitutional role of federalism so that future power grabs become more difficult and less likely.
We should allow the people of
Federalism is all about keeping government within the reach of the people, about keeping government in its place. Health care is personal, it is about us, each of us, and we deserve our rightful place in making health care decisions. The Health Care Freedom Act which I have sponsored keeps government in its place. As Alexander Hamilton proclaimed before the
Monday, January 25, 2010
This week Governor Jay Nixon delivered the annual State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly. This was different than the seven previous State of the State addresses that I have attended during my time in the Missouri House. Unlike previous addresses, this year’s address was a 45 minute speech without enthusiasm, without passion, without substance, and without leadership.
In the midst of 9.6% unemployment and sagging state revenues, Governor Nixon failed to cast a vision for
There was no mention of the current state of the state. It lacked any serious conversation of the challenges we face in crafting the next state budget. It lacked any serious discussion of his priorities in his budget. No mention of serious tax reform, economic incentive reform, or health care reform. The Governor even failed to take a stand on the health care proposals in Congress.
This was a “safe” speech. It did not address anything controversial, nor did Governor Nixon stick his neck out backing any significant issue. He gave his office and the General Assembly all of the elbow room necessary to do anything and claim a victory – after all it is an election year.
While I did expect more from Governor Nixon’s address, he did state that:
We must keep the jobs we have, and create thousands more.
We must build a granite foundation for
’s future growth. Missouri
And we must balance the budget without raising taxes.
This simple statement is a great place to start and deserves bipartisan cooperation to move
Even though the State of the State lacked substance and leadership, it did open the door for Governor, the House, and the Senate to work together this session.
In contrast to Governor Nixon’s silence on the health care proposals in Washington, DC, the Missouri House passed a concurrent resolution this week by a vote of 111 to 46 that sends a message to our congressional delegation, Speaker Pelosi, and the President opposing these measures on the grounds that they are too expensive, too big, to corrupt, and hand out too many special deals. The cost to the state of
According to a Rasmussen Reports poll released recently, 55% of the American people oppose these proposals and only 40% support the federal healthcare takeover and mandate being thrust upon us by President Obama, Senator Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi. Other polls in
These proposals contain provisions that obligate the states to substantially increase the amount of money that each state will be required to pay for Medicaid with the exception of special backroom deals like Senator Nelson’s Cornhusker Kickback for
The Missouri Department of Social Services estimates that the total cost to Missouri could range from $2.18 billion to $2.45 billion. This is on top of the $100 million plus per year in new funding for natural caseload growth. Our budget, along with
The weeks ahead will pose many challenges for lawmakers. Short-term fiscal policies will fail to promote long-term growth. The Missouri House of Representatives will pursue policies that will allow people keep more of their own money, allow them to make decisions for themselves and their families, and give individuals more liberty in their consumption, savings, and debt retirement.