Our Opinion: Missouri Senate must preserve House’s fiscal responsibility

Missouri lawmakers were given a proposed budget about one-third larger than the current budget.

Like we said in a previous editorial, it gave Gov. Mike Parson the rare opportunity to play Santa Claus in his proposed budget -- freely handing out gifts through programs and budget increases to all segments of the population.

Our state has had a windfall of federal money from the pandemic, yet House Republicans this past week still had to fend off Democratic attempts to spend more money.

The House on Tuesday gave first-round approval to a $46.2 billion budget. But it was after repeated efforts from Democrats to tap into the state's surplus, according to a story we published by The Missouri Independent.

The budget already has increases for things such as Medicaid expansion and higher education.

But House Democrats tried repeatedly to tap the state's revenue surplus, estimated at about $1.8 billion.

Fortunately, a House rule requires representatives who propose budget increases to "fund" their increases by cutting the budget elsewhere.

"House Democratic Leader Crystal Quade, of Springfield, tried in vain to convince the House to suspend that rule and use a portion of the surplus," the Independent reported.

Her argument: "If you think senators aren't going to spend that money, you must be new here."

So, since we can expect irresponsible spending by the upper chamber, we might as well do it too.

"You are going to hear consistently from the other side of the aisle that we are not spending enough money," said House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, in the story.

During the debate, one Democrat, Rep. Peter Merideth, of St. Louis, ranking Democrat on the budget committee, tried repeatedly to tap the general revenue surplus without finding cuts elsewhere, the news source reported.

It said he tried to spend $100 million to give schools grants for increasing teacher pay, add $215 million to school transportation needs and provide more than $100 million more for state colleges and universities.

St. Louis Public Radio reported: "While the House's version of the budget increased from $46.1 billion to $46.5 billion between Tuesday and Thursday, House Democrats voted against many of the budget bills, saying much more could be spent considering the state currently has record general revenue and billions of federal dollars to spend."

Fortunately, Republicans stayed strong, repelling most attempts at adding to the already bloated budget.

We're not saying the proposed additional spending doesn't have merit and won't do good things. What we are saying is that having a healthy surplus fund is a good thing. At some point, our state will need it -- our federal government's massive deficit spending and debt will eventually catch up to us.

We ask the Senate to follow the House's lead by holding the line on spending and leaving our state with a healthy surplus fund.

News Tribune

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