Budget Bills, Tort Reform, and Announces Plan for Minimum Wage Bill
On July 5, Governor Eric Greitens signed several bills and announced his intentions on the standard statewide minimum wage bill.
The Governor has signed House Bills 1-13, 17, and 18, the budget bills passed by the legislature to fund Missouri government for the next year.
For the first time in a decade, the Foundation Formula is fully funded. Under Governor Greitens’ administration, funding for K-12 education has increased by more than $133 million.
This budget includes $6 million for the Governor’s rural school broadband program. It increases funding by over $12 million for Early Childhood Special Education, over $10 million to keep children out of dangerous and abusive situations, and over $12 million to combat the opioid crisis.
Due to lower than expected tax receipts from 2016 and rising healthcare costs, the Governor is restricting more than $250 million to keep a balanced budget. Those restrictions are detailed here: https://oa.mo.gov/budget-planning/budget-information/2018-budget-information
“We were sent here to make tough decisions. That’s what we’re doing. Politicians were trying to spend money we don’t have. So we’re left with two choices: raise taxes or cut spending. I will not raise your taxes,” said Governor Eric Greitens.
Governor Greitens vetoed HCB3. The bill asks the Commissioner of Administration to drain $35.4 million from various state funds into General Revenue to be used as a one-time gimmick to pay for other state programs. Funds at risk of being cut by the bill included initiatives to prevent child abuse and neglect (Children’s Trust Fund), assistance to workers injured on the job (Workers Compensation Fund and Second Injury Fund), and training to police officers (Highway Patrol Academy Fund) and firefighters (Fire Education Fund).
This gimmick was pushed through in the middle of the night with no public hearing. It exempted funds for tattoo artists (Tattoo Fund), interior designers (Interior Designer Council Fund), embalmers (Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors’ Fund), acupuncturists (Acupuncturist Fund), massage therapists (Massage Therapy Fund), and realtors (Real Estate Commission Fund) from the sweep.
“This bill would put funds for abused children, injured workers, and first responders in jeopardy, but protect funding for tattoo artists, interior designers, and realtors. Politicians cherry-picked their desired funds to protect, while the most vulnerable Missourians were left holding the bag.
I put money in the budget to protect the most vulnerable Missourians. The House did their job. The Senate failed. This was a clearly unconstitutional, last-minute budget gimmick. I won’t sign an unconstitutional, one-time, fake fix to a real problem,” said Governor Greitens.
The Governor also signed SB 139, a bill to protect the MORx program. The program helps low-income Missourians pay for their prescription drugs. The entire MORx program was scheduled to expire in August 2017. Governor Greitens extended the MORx program until at least 2022 for more than 182,000 Missourians.
Governor Greitens signed several tort reform bills, SB 88, HB 452, and SB43. SB 88 gives veterinarians the same malpractice coverage as doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals. HB 452 says that, with certain exceptions, no health care provider shall be liable for the negligence of another entity or person who is not an employee of the health care provider. SB 43 brings standards for lawsuits in Missouri in line with 38 other states and the federal government.
Governor Greitens added, “Tort reform is important. We need to prevent trial lawyers from killing good jobs.”
SB 43 requires the use of the “motivating factor” standard for employment discrimination cases. The “motivating factor” standard is used by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) in analyzing claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). It is also the standard of proof relied on by federal courts analyzing claims under Title VII, the ADA, and other federal discrimination statutes.
“I’ve met with passionate advocates on both sides of SB 43. I respect all of them. I’ve listened to every side. I believe we need to bring Missouri’s standards in line with 38 other states and the federal government,” said Governor Greitens.
The Governor also announced his view of the bill passed by the legislature to create a standard statewide minimum wage, HB 1194 and HB 1193. Governor Greitens will not sign the minimum wage bill. It will go into law automatically on August 28th without his signature.
“I ran for governor to bring more jobs to Missouri. Our state needs more private sector paychecks and bigger private sector paychecks. Politicians in St. Louis passed a bill that fails on both counts: it will kill jobs, and despite what you hear from liberals, it will take money out of people’s pockets.
This isn’t an easy issue. Too many Missourians struggle to get by. They work hard. They want to get ahead. They need leaders who have their back — and I do.
The St. Louis politicians who did this claim it will help people. It’ll hurt them. This increase in the minimum wage might read pretty on paper, but it doesn’t work in practice. Government imposes an arbitrary wage, and small businesses either have to cut people’s hours or let them go. They tried this in Seattle. The minimum wage went up, and the results are heartbreaking: the average worker in the city lost $125 a month. That’s $1,500 a year because jobs were lost and hours were cut. Liberals say these laws help people. They don’t. They hurt them.
Politicians in the legislature could’ve come up with a timely solution to this problem. Instead, they dragged their feet for months. Now, because of their failures, we have different wages across the state. It’s created uncertainty for small businesses. And it all could have been avoided if the politicians had done their job on time.
I disapprove of the way politicians handled this. That’s why I won’t be signing my name to their bill.
What I support—and what I will continue to deliver—are results: policies that will raise the take-home pay and opportunities of all Missourians. That’s how Missouri will grow, and that’s what should have happened here,” said Governor Greitens.
The study referenced in the Governor’s quote can be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/26/new-study-casts-doubt-on-whether-a-15-minimum-wage-really-helps-workers/?utm_term=.b127424595a8