Once again the Missouri House used a public, open process to craft a balanced budget.

Once again the Missouri House used a public, open process to craft a balanced budget.

When you go shopping for your family, I’m sure there’s always a simple question you ask yourself before every purchase – can we afford it? It’s the kind of common sense question every Missouri family asks on a daily basis whether they’re considering a purchase as expensive as a new car or even minor purchases like treats for the kids.

These questions are asked over and over again because Missouri families have limited income – a fact that requires they create and stick to a responsible budget. It’s a simple feat that thousands upon thousands of families manage to accomplish, and yet, for our federal government it remains a completely unattainable goal.

These were thoughts I had in mind this week as we worked on the state budget in the Missouri House of Representatives. As I watched the process we use to manage our taxpayer dollars here in Missouri, I was struck by how simple and efficient it really is, and how far removed it is from the chaos and nonsense that goes on at the federal level. It’s the kind of process I know people would appreciate because it is done in much the same manner families use when they balance their own budgets.

As citizens of this great nation, I know we get discouraged when we see our federal government continue to fail to pass not just a responsible budget, but any kind of budget at all. 

We see a government that has no problem with deficit spending and a national debt that increases at such a rapid pace it is frightening. It’s not just about the problems we face today because of this irresponsible spending, but also the mountains of debt that will be left for our children, and their children, and their children’s children to pay back.

The budget process on the state level offers a stark contrast to the federal mess. The most important thing to understand with the state budget process is that there is no such thing as deficit spending.

As a result, the state does not have an ever-increasing debt total like the federal government. Our State Constitution mandates that we pass a balanced budget each year, and it’s a requirement we meet each and every year regardless of how difficult the budget situation may be.

One of the most interesting things to talk about with the state budget process is the method we use to increase or change funding totals. Let’s say you would like to see our system of education receive more money. Your challenge then becomes finding another place in the budget where you can take the money you need to fund your increase.

You see we can’t create money out of thin air or borrow it from the Chinese. We have to live within our means, which means an increase in one part of the budget means a decrease somewhere else. Yes, it makes crafting a budget a very challenging process, but it also ensures that we only spend the money we have.

The budget we passed out of the House this week isn’t perfect, but it is balanced. It provides record levels of funding for our system of K-12 education – more than $5.5 billion in funding in total - and includes increases for the Missouri Preschool Project and First Steps.

The budget also includes funding for a scholarship assistance program for the many National Guardsmen who are going to lose tuition assistance as a result of the sequester cuts. What the budget does not include is $900 million in federal money to swell the rolls of Missouri’s broken Medicaid system. I am extremely proud my colleagues stood together to say no to the White House’s manipulative efforts to force Obamacare down our throats.

The budget now moves to the Senate where I’m sure many changes will be made. However, you can rest assured that, regardless of the changes they make, the budget will remain balanced. The federal government could learn a thing or two by looking to states like ours when it comes to the budgetary process. It’s nothing more than good, old-fashioned, common sense, but it’s something that is desperately needed in Washington, D.C.

Right to Farm Advances in the Senate

Also this week, my constitutional amendment to protect the traditional rights of Missouri farmers passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee. I’m happy to see the legislation move quickly through the process. It seems to be on track to make it through both chambers before session ends May 17.

From there it will be up to you and your fellow voters to approve this change to our Missouri Constitution so that our farm families will be protected from the schemes of out-of-state animal rights radicals who want to restrict our ability to farm.

In a previous Capitol Report I discussed passing the "Right to Farm" amendment out of the House:

It may surprise you to know one of the leaders of a so-called “animal rights” group is on record as saying his goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture. It’s a fact many Missourians may not realize, but it’s important that we all understand these out-of-state, out-of-touch groups want nothing less than the destruction of the agricultural traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation for centuries.