It seems like Memorial Day weekend always sneaks up on me. The kickoff to summer holiday usually follows the hectic, final week of session and marks my transition from driving to the Capitol each week to work on legislation to attending meetings and events in the district. Gina Richardson, my legislative assistant, will be manning the fort in Jefferson City while Mike Kelley, my chief of staff, and I will be primarily working in the district and starting to work on legislation for next session. As I reflect on this historical 100th General Assembly, I am proud of how much my colleagues and I were able to accomplish in a time frame cut short by the coronavirus outbreak.
Negotiating Substitutes and Amendments
During the 2020 legislative session, I sponsored 24 total bills, and two of them, Senate Bills 591 and 718, made it all the way through the process and were Truly Agreed and Finally Passed (TAFP). In addition, five of my bills were included in the language of passed House Bills, and two pieces of my legislation landed on final versions of Senate Bills. House Bill 1414 contains language from my Senate Bill 826 and helps homeless or unaccompanied children attain free vital records and provides a method for them to enter into contracts. The last bill to be TAFP’d in the final hours of this session was House Bill 1963. One of its provisions includes the content of my Senate Bill 748. This measure permits deaf and hard of hearing Missourians to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in an effort to connect qualified drivers with jobs in the high-demand trucking industry. Another one of its provisions extends the jet fuel tax credit that has helped the Joplin Regional Airport develop into the facility it is with commercial jet service to Dallas and Chicago.
With a Little Help from My Friends
Making this much progress in Jefferson City requires patience and diplomacy, but more importantly, it requires the support and assistance from the residents of Senate District 32! I believe the real work of being a senator happens at home, or in my case, the southwest corner of Missouri. Attending community events, listening to personal stories and visiting with small business owners helps me get a pulse on what policies I will prioritize and work on next session. Representing your needs at the Capitol and voicing your opinions to my colleagues fills me with pride and renews my passion for service. Thank you for entrusting me with this important job!
Another Great Missouri Compromise
From my perspective, passing the state’s $35.2 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year 2021 required diplomacy and multiple compromises in order to balance the state’s bottom line as Missouri faces serious revenue shortfalls as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Social Services takes the lion’s share of the budget as it provides important and necessary services to our elderly, children and low-income families. Education comes in second place attributing to 24% of our state’s expenditures, followed by transportation at a little over 8%. I believe this budget reflects our values and ensures our government remains open, funded and able to serve the citizens of our great state.
WHERE THE MONEY COMES FROM:
The main sources of General Revenue are:
Individual Income Tax Insurance Premium Tax
Sales & Use Tax Liquor & Beer Tax
Corporate Income Tax
FEDERAL FUNDS $14,757,315,949
OTHER FUNDS $10,522,400,235
Other Funds are resources dedicated to specific purposes.
Lottery & Gaming Proceeds
Highway & Road Funds
Conservation, Parks, Soil & Water Funds
Proposition C & Cigarette Tax
The state treasurer recently announced the launch of a new interactive portal that Missourians can use to track the state’s spending of federal relief funds to combat COVID-19. The Show-Me Checkbook provides an “economic dashboard” of datasets for payroll, cash flow, revenue and more while ensuring the transparent and fiscally responsible distribution of the federal aid.
I want to congratulate this year’s graduating seniors and share a special dedication that took place at the “Peoples House.” To honor our high school and college graduates, the governor and first lady ordered the dome to be illuminated on May 20 at 8:20pm (20:20 military time) for 20 minutes and 20 seconds! Most commencement celebrations have had to be postponed as a safety precaution against the spread of the virus. Although graduates may not experience the pomp and circumstance of a typical graduation ceremony, I wish the graduating class of 2020 the best of luck for a happy and successful future.