State House speaker pitches priorities on Cape tour stop

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Tim Jones

Missouri's Speaker of the House, Tim Jones, R-Eureka, outlined a three-part priority plan for the upcoming legislative session Monday when he stopped at My Daddy's Cheesecake in Cape Girardeau to meet with local legislators and the public.

Jones' appearance was part of a multiday tour this week through 21 Missouri cities where the representative is pitching his "Triple E Plan" of economic development, energy and education issues. He hopes the issues will be addressed when the Missouri House and Senate return for their regular session in January.

He spoke in support of legislation he said would reform the state's tax credit system, remove regulation from businesses, place caps on amounts paid in medical malpractice lawsuits and give control of education to local communities. Jones also brought up the possible future use of bonds for infrastructure improvements.

Jones will work with a veto-proof Republican majority in the state legislature during the 2013 session.

He called Monday's topics a "broad overview of what I think the challenges are that are facing our state and our legislature, and some of the things we are going to be working on."

Specifics for addressing each of the issues in the plan are not yet complete, according to Jones, and the agenda is not all-encompassing. But he did discuss legislation prefiled in the Senate that he said would have some effect on economic development and job creation, particularly tax credit reform, tax deductions for business income and corporate income tax reduction.

"Reducing taxes where we can is going to be a top priority," he said.

Jones said he expects a coalition of people will work health-care tort reform in the upcoming session -- something he said would benefit Missouri because of the size of the state's health-care industry and its significance to the economy. He referenced reforms put in place by former governor Matt Blunt and the state legislature, which he said were largely thrown out by the Missouri Supreme Court last summer. The result is fiercer competition between Missouri and Kansas to draw medical businesses.

"That's something we are going to have to act on very quickly, and, to me, that has everything to do with job creation and job retention here in the state in our health care industry, which is one of the largest," he said.

The Kansas Supreme Court in October upheld caps on medical malpractice damages while Missouri's struck them down.

On the state's tax credit system, the cost of which has long been a point of contention in the legislature, Jones said he believes that a balance can be struck through a process of "cut, cap and create." He said he wants to cut several dozen tax credit programs that are underused; cap others for "budget certainty;" and at the same time create new programs as long as they are "fiscally smart and taxpayer friendly."

Jones called the current plan for addressing energy issues a "little vague," but said he would like to see the state still qualify for some federal funding to build more nuclear reactors and separately become a manufacturer and exporter of small modular nuclear reactors.

For education, Jones said he wants more business owners engaged in workforce training so as not to lose Missouri students to other areas of the country; a better balance in the relationship between funding and school and teacher performance; and more local control and stepped-up involvement from parents.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

265 S. Broadview St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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