The Capitol Circus: Missouri’s 2018 Legislative Session 

The Capitol Circus

Missouri’s 2018 Legislative Session

February 3, 2018

To date 1,138 bills have been filed in the Missouri House (not counting budget measures) and 439 bills have been filed in the Senate.  Just one – requiring posters about a hotline for trafficked women – have passed both chambers.  Perhaps four dozen non-budget bills will become law.

Fiscal Year 2019 Budget

Always follow the money…The Missouri Constitution requires a balanced budget.  Unfortunately, predicting revenue and expenses up to 13 months in advance is not a science nor an art.

Governor Eric Greitens’ budget is a fairy tale.  He projects more revenue than anyone else expects, allowing him to propose increased spending on K – 12 education and for the developmentally disabled.  He wants steep cuts in money to higher education and Medicaid.  Services to seniors would also be trimmed.

In FY19 the impact of previous state tax cuts, plus Trump tax cuts (costing Missouri at least $60 million), point to a need to reduce state General Revenue spending by as much as $400 millionbefore Missouri absorbs cuts to food stamps, Medicaid and other programs expected out of Washington.

Tax Cuts

Greitens proposed a re-working of Missouri’s tax system:  his proposal hasn’t been introduced as legislation – and may not be.  Senators Andrew Koenig and Bill Eigel have proposed substantial changes to the income tax system.  A few positive changes are in all three proposals.  Most of the changes would reduce tax revenue, with most of the cuts benefiting high-income individuals and companies.

Abortion

This session 20 bills dealing with abortion have been filed – nine by pro-choice advocates and 11 by opponents.  For campaign purposes, at lease one anti-abortion bill will pass.

Education Funding

Higher education will lose as much as 10% of their state income.  A token increase in college scholarship programs is proposed.

The governor increases formula money to K – 12 but he reduces transportation money.

It is probable that the approved funding level will be reduced by the governor’s withholds.

Prevailing Wage

The lead item on the Missouri Senate website is a report that Prevailing Wage legislation is under consideration.  It is expected to pass both chambers and be signed by the governor.

Unemployment

Again this year, legislature will move to limit unemployment pay to 13 weeks – the second shortest total in the nation.   This will happen.

Tort Reform

The Missouri legislature continues to consider “reforms” which protect companies at the expense of citizens.  For example, the House passed a bill will allows insurance companies to mitigate their obligations to insureds by giving the court an escrow check for the ‘policy limit.’ [HB 1531]

17 Year Olds In Juvenile Court

A bi-partisan effort to keep 17 year olds out of adult prisons is making progress.

Must Work For Food, Medicine & “Welfare”

Missouri will require “able-bodied” adults to work at least 20 hours a week to receive Medicaid and food stamps.  Moms on Temporary Assistance, six weeks after birth, will be required to work 30 hours a week.

These action are allowed by Washington:  Missouri neglects to follow regulations that the state provide adequate support services – transportation aid, child care and meaningful training – to recipients.

Medicaid (MO HealthNet)

One in ten Missourians is a child on Medicaid.  In all, one million Missourians are covered by Medicaid.       The legislature and the governor seek to dramatically cut the state’s cost for Medicaid: doctors, hospitals and other providers can expect to see their meager reimbursements trimmed.  New restriction on joining Medicaid are expected.

The Dept. of Social Services is expected to “find”  another $50 in unspecified administrative savings.

Submitted by Glenn Koenen, WCD Member

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