August 20, 2014

Smaller government committee wraps up whirlwind hearing tour

A House Committee that looks for ways to cut red tape and eliminate redundancies or unnecessary elements in government has wrapped up nine hearings in three days, throughout Missouri.

Representative Paul Curtman (photo; Missouri House Communications)

Representative Paul Curtman (photo; Missouri House Communications)

Representative Paul Curtman (R-Union) is the Chairman of the Committee on Downsizing State Government. He says he is going to be spending the next few days going back over pages of notes from each of the sessions, considering what ideas deserve more attention or even legislation.

One suggestion that stands out to Curtman was made at the first hearing, in St. Louis.

“We had a really good suggestion from a guy who said, ‘I don’t know if Missouri has one of these measuring devices to measure the cost-effectiveness of money after it’s been appropriated,’ he said, ‘but maybe we need a formula to see whether or not the benefit outweighs the cost, or visa-versa, to make sure that the people are getting their money’s worth out of government.’”

Curtman says he will see if anything like that already exists in state government, and whether he thinks anything that does exist goes far enough.

He says some issues were raised to the committee more than once. One was the veto by Governor Jay Nixon of legislation that would cut income taxes for Missouri individuals and businesses.

At the final hearing on Thursday, Missouri Chamber of Commerce Lobbyist Alex Curchin told the committee for that bill to become law would help to downsize state government.

“There were always those who told us taxes couldn’t be cut until spending was reduced. Well, you know, we can lecture our children about extravagance until we run out of voice and breath, or we can cure their extravagance by simply reducing their allowance. That’s what we believe House Bill 253 will do, is reduce the allowance and make government a more appropriate size by that broad-based tax cut.”

Governor Nixon says that legislation would cost the state millions in revenue, jeopardizing state programs, and he withheld $400-million saying it’s necessary in case his veto is overridden. He told Missourians in Kirksville on Thursday that a part of the bill that would repeal a tax exemption on prescription drugs would also be a $200-million tax hike on Missourians.

Curtman says another issue that was raised at more than one event was the proposed legalization of marijuana.

“That is an organized effort. They have had people at almost every single hearing. I would say that fits within the parameters of our committee.”