NOTE: Because of an editing error, the final, corrected version of this column was not originally published. This is the correct version. The Examiner aplogizes for the error.
As papers were tossed and the State Legislation session came to a conclusion on Friday, it closed a feverish and rewarding first two years of service in The House of Representatives for me. This has been a remarkable session with many notable accomplishments. The General Assembly worked together and in these economically challenging times successfully passed a balanced budget. Funding for K-12 education was increased by 5 million dollars with an additional 3 million dollars for Higher Education.
For the past two years I, along with other members of the House and Senate, have been working diligently on a dedicated revenue stream to help fund our seven Missouri veteran’s homes. According to the Governor’s 2012 Budget Recommendations both the home fund and trust fund would be bankrupt by the end of 2013 and could have potentially forced the closing of the homes. Fortunately, a solution was found by returning the casino admission fees (paid by the casinos) back to our veteran’s homes as they had received prior to 1998. Under this provision, our veterans will receive enough funding to keep our homes open and viable for years to come. We also protected early childhood education by creating a funding stream from the Master Tobacco Settlement funds. When we come together to solve a problem we can achieve great things.
When the City of Blue Springs backed the bonds for sewer and water on 1500 acres in southern Blue Springs they were unaware that neighborhood improvement district taxes (NID) legally could not be applied to properties that were foreclosed on by Jackson County. This misunderstanding put the city in the position of no proven recourse to collect NID taxes. At the request of Mayor Carson Ross and County Executive Mike Sanders, I attempted to correct this by adding legislation that would include Jackson County in the counties that collected NID liens on foreclosed properties. I was able to attach the amendment onto three Senate bills and two House bills; unfortunately they fell short of passage. This vital issue will have to be addressed in the next session to make sure the citizens of Blue Springs do not inherit the 30 million dollars in back taxes not paid by the developers.
Since serving as a City Councilman and now as your State Representative I have stood up for the citizens and fought for you to have a voice in your government. One of the most controversial issues our residents faced this past year was the city take over of your trash service. I received hundreds of calls and e-mails from upset citizens asking for help. Many fear this is too attractive of a revenue builder for the city to continually resist. I responded by filing 2 bills and several amendments that would give you a voice in this process. I proposed that before a city can mandate a single trash hauler it must go to a vote of the people. Zero cost to the city since a special election was not required.
When local municipalities overstep their authority and attempt to create a monopoly, by removing the right of consumers to decide who they do business with and how much they will pay, justifiably people get outraged. It is our responsibility as your elected state representatives to step in when local government overreaches its authority and stand up for you. I did and I will continue to fight the fight for fiscal responsibility and less government intrusion in your lives.