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I had a great week during our spring break, visited nine schools and presented them with House Resolutions for their distinction in performance awards, visited with people in the district and enjoyed the weather. I returned to the capitol Monday and started debating budget bills. We finished this week by granting approval to a $23.2 billion budget.
This budget reflects the continuing commitment of the House Majority to pass a budget that’s not only balanced, but sets aside $49 million in savings and continues to reflect the top priorities of the Missouri House of Representatives.
States across this country are faced with budget shortfalls on an unprecedented scale. Tough decisions made in the past, and tougher decisions made during this budget process have led to a budget that House Majority members can point to as a roadmap for continued fiscal recovery.
The House balanced this budget while being able to hold K-12 education harmless to the 2011 funding levels, while instituting only modest reductions to our higher education institutions, while protecting low income healthcare and while maintaining funding for other vital state services such as correctional facilities and public safety.
Further state restructuring and programmatic changes will be needed to move Missouri through this current financial crisis. Continuing work by the House Appropriations Committees and by the Interim Committee on Budget Transparency will enable this process to remain fluid and will allow members the needed knowledge of state services to continue to make fiscal decisions.
* Left more than $49 million on the balance sheet, a balanced budget that continues to meet the needs of all Missourians.
* Held funding for the Foundation Formula harmless. In light of recent historical declines in state revenues, the House Majority was able to again make education the #1 priority.
* Implemented the Preparing to Care program for higher education institutions that will help prepare students for careers in the health care industry.
* Continued funding for Missouri’s commitment to the production of alternative fuels. This aims to continue to move Missouri towards an economy less dependent on foreign oil.
* A budget of over $8.4 billion for the MO Healthnet program. This money will continue to fund access to healthcare for the neediest Missourians.
* Combined funding of over $40 million for job training, retention and development programs within the Department of Economic Development.
* $365k in cuts to the Missouri House of Representatives budget, further proof the House is taking the lead during this financial crisis.
* Reduced funding for Department Directors and Deputy Directors to a maximum level of $86,500, saving state taxpayers over $1.0 million.
* Held the Governor accountable for his excessive use of the state plane by restricting expenses from other state departments.
It is a pleasure to represent you in state government.