Give Liberty a Chance!

God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies…

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

Monday, January 25, 2010

State of the State

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 Missouri’s future. The speech was more notable for it didn’t address than what it did.

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 Missouri’s future growth.

And we must balance the budget without raising taxes.

This simple statement is a great place to start and deserves bipartisan cooperation to move Missouri forward in the coming year and decade. His economic proposals deserve our attention, we must build a budget that lives within our means without raising taxes, and we must position Missouri by simplifying our regulatory environment.

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 Missouri is enormous and will do nothing bend the cost curve making health insurance more affordable.

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 Missouri suggest opposition among Missourians is closer to 60 - 65%.

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 Nebraska that exempts Nebraska from this provision shifting their costs on the rest of the states.

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 Missouri taxpayers can not bear this new shift of costs without increasing taxes or cutting expenditures on education or other vital state services.

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.

No comments: