Legislative Issues

West County Democrats

Legislative Update

July 10, 2017

Glenn Koenen

Federal Items:

While the media focuses on Presidential Tweets and Russian meddling, the Trump administration is quietly overturning established policies.  Air and water pollution and work place discrimination become more acceptable every day.  Student loan programs are melting.  And, the worst is yet to come.

Washington insiders don’t see a path for a ‘replacement’ of “Obamacare” to become law: it is possible that a majority of Republicans would vote to repeal the ACA without a replacement in the wings.

The Trump administration is expected to get many of the cuts to social programs included in the president’s budget proposal.  Medicaid and food stamps appear especially at risk.  Missouri could see a 10% to 20% cut – more than $2 billion a year – in Medicaid support.  Food stamps will probably require a state match, starting at 10% ($100 million a year) and growing to 25%.

State Items:

Missouri ended Fiscal Year 2017 with a whimper.  While overall General Revenue was up 2.6% (about 1.2% above the inflation rate), corporate tax revenue dropped by 7.1%.

Most all of the bad things passed by the legislature, such as work place discrimination, were signed into law or allowed to take effect by the governor late on the Friday before the July 4th Holiday.

Gov. Greitens started the new fiscal year by taking away expenses he didn’t want in the budget:

► The Circuit Breaker for renters was cancelled.

► Transportation money for schools was reduced.

► The higher education allocation went back to the proposed 9% reduction.

► Scheduled repairs to state buildings were cancelled.

► Medicaid providers will get paid 1.5% less per service than they received last month.

In addition, the Department of Social Services, already on starvation rations, has been ordered to find $30 million in new “efficiencies.”

More budget cuts to this year’s budget will be needed.  The state must offset revenue loss from the implementation of the 2014 tax cut and several other small revenue reductions.  It is very possible that Missouri will collect less money this fiscal year than it did last fiscal year.

The current, second Special Session of the legislature is expected to run late into this month.  The governor and some important GOP friends have expressed a desire for additional sessions, and, Senator Claire McCaskill has called for action on Prescription Drug Monitoring.  The governor blames “career politicians” for “not doing their job” during the regular session, thus making overtime necessary.

The governor appointed a panel of Republicans to come up with a better taxation strategy: most of the draft report – which called for a state Earned Income Credit among other things – was disowned.

For the legislative issues archives click here.

Submitted by Glenn Koenen, WCD Member