Time for action: Legislators should review commission's ideas

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Last night the Missouri State Government Review Commission met in Jefferson City for a dinner with Gov. Matt Blunt and a discussion of implementation of the commission's recommendations.

Blunt has executed a number of the recommendations by executive order, but to date there has been little legislative activity on the 84 proposals.

This is a mistake.

All of the proposals should not be rubber-stamped (nor did this 20-member commission expect it), but much time, thought and review went into the report.

I also suspect that few of the Jefferson City media corps have taken time to review the report.

In March, publisher Dalton Wright from Lebanon, Mo., and I (we both were members of the commission) will make a presentation on the recommendations at a joint meeting of the Missouri Society of Newspaper Editors, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Missouri and the Ozark Press Association.

I will also be in Jefferson City later this month for the annual Missouri Chamber Day at the Capitol and for the Missouri Press Association Day at the Capitol event.

At these events, Blunt and leading House and Senate members of both parties are subject to questions from the floor. I was impressed with the direct, candid answers of all concerned at last year's session.

I hope you got to read our Sunday newspaper article and graphics on the allocation of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority funding anticipated from the sale of some of MOHELA's assets.

I'll let a little of the dust settle, but it's much easier to make a rational case that funding for Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus should be included than be opposed.

To my knowledge, no state money has ever been withheld (when funds are available) from an already funded ($4.6 million actual and $11 million-plus funded but withheld because of a revenue shortage) after the project has been started and which looks to the state for less than 50 percent of the total budget (the rest coming from private, city and federal participation).

Revving up revenue: President Bush didn't cut taxes.

He cut tax rates.

Revenue is not down but up, and new jobs are the direct result of capital investment.

Because the 2003 reduction in tax rates on capital gains and dividends was so successful in spurring investment, the economy continues to outperform expectations. As a result, last year's deficit actually came in $100 billion smaller than projected at the beginning of the year. There is no deficit problem unless there is a recession. And raising tax rates on investment and capital formation is a good way to slow down our economy and lose revenue. -- Jack Kemp, honorary co-chairman, Free Enterprise Fund, New York Sun

We give up leisure in order that we may have leisure, just as we go to war in order that we may have peace. -- Aristotle

State Treasurer Sarah Steelman's annual report lists interest earnings of $88.4 million on state investments while returning $20 million in lost property to 57,000 citizens and processing 6 million fund transfers totaling $20 billion.

The state treasurer is responsible for making risk-averse investments of money the state does not immediately need. This year, Steelman revised investment policies to place more of Missouri's tax dollars into in-state investments.

In 2005, total earnings for the state totaled $88.4 million, with an annualized yield of 3.023 percent on a portfolio with an average book value of $2.9 billion. In 2004, the state earned $51.3 million, with an average yield of 1.713 percent.

Steelman said working with the legislature to pass the BIG Missouri linked-deposit program also will help make more effective use of Missouri tax dollars to help create jobs and strengthen Missouri firms and businesses.

In 1996 the Chinese owned 7 million cell phones. In 2005 they owned 360 million. There are more cell phones now in China than in North America.

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications. He served as a member of the Missouri State Government Review Commission.

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