It’s been a busy summer at the Capitol. As you may have heard, we just finished Veto Session. With more than 60 bills signed into law and taking effect last month, the Missouri General Assembly returned to Jefferson City on Sept. 13 for the constitutional veto session.
First, I am very happy to report that one of the bills the governor signed into law this summer was a $300 million Missouri income tax cut on Social Security retirement and disability income. I originally filed this tax cut bill two years ago, and with the help of a lot of people this year, we were able to get it passed into law.
The idea for this bill came from a local constituent, and Missouri now joins 39 other states in not taxing hard earned Social Security retirement and disability pay. This new law will keep more than $300 million in the pockets of seniors and the disabled across the state!
Throughout each legislative session, legislators from all corners of the state work to create and modify laws to cut red tape, to improve programs, and to better our state. After the legislative session ends, the governor has hard decisions to make regarding which bills to sign into law or to veto. As part of our system of checks and balances, the Missouri General Assembly is given the last chance to override any governor veto in September of each year.
This year, the governor vetoed 201 budget line-items in the fiscal year 2024 operating budget, adding up to more than a $555 million cut from our $51 billion state operating budget.
We had another record budget this year, and I support the hard choices the governor made in his final cuts. Over the last few years most of the dollars to pay for the big state budget increases came from federal COVID-related payouts to each state. Counties and cities got their share as well. Those big dollar handouts won’t (and fiscally can’t) last forever, and we must always be willing to cut the proverbial “fat” and tighten the state’s budget belt. Although several House members proposed veto overrides of their special interest project funding, I think the governor’s budget cuts made sense. We must always be willing to make tough calls to save money and to balance the state’s budget. In the end, the piper must always be paid.
The governor also vetoed Senate Bill 189, which deals with public safety and crime prevention measures. The governor disapproved of the broad wording in a couple of paragraphs of that very long Senate bill, and again, I must agree with the governor — after hearing his explanation.
As mentioned before in past reports, I think that one of the most important jobs at the Capitol is to work hard to keep our laws simple and clear, especially criminal ones. There simply can’t be any wiggle room in criminal laws. Even though Senate Bill 189 passed through the House Judiciary Committee (and as Chair, I spent many hours working on the bill), the governor’s staff caught a few lines in this very wordy Senate bill that still needed work. Most of this bill had broad support from both the legislative and the executive branch, such as Blair's Law and Max's Law, as well as increased penalties for both violent repeat offenders and drug dealers that have caused serious physical injury or death to others. I’ve already drafted suggested changes and hope we’ll get this public safety bill voted out of the House and Senate early this coming session.
By the end of Veto Session, the Senate also agreed with the governor’s vetoes. No veto overrides were passed, and no vetoes overturned.
Wrapping up for now, I again thank you for the ongoing honor to serve as your representative and to speak for your commonsense values. If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally or at the Capitol, please call Becky Connell at my office at 573-751-1455, or email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate hearing from you.