Less than three weeks from now, the Missouri legislature begins the annual struggle to pay for the things Missourians need or want from state government. Early indications are that lawmakers are all over the map on the issue. After several years of tight budgets and spending cuts to make sure state constitution’s requirement is met for a balanced state budget….lawmakers will have some additional money to spend. How much is still undetermined….but it will be enough to fight about. Some Republican leaders including the House Speaker want to give a lot of it back to taxpayers. One is Joplin representative Ron Richard, the chairman of the House Economic Development Committee, who says some of the extra money should go back to taxpayers. He says he’ll be working to change tax policy. Minority democrats such as Representative Paul LeVota of Independence say a tax cut is possible, but not until the state meets its financial obligations elsewhere. He says the state needs to increase funding for higher education and healthcare, which he calls the dominant issue in the upcoming session. LeVota says democrats are open to tax cuts but only after the needs of the people have been met. Levota is the assistant minority leader in the House. A Republican on the senate appropriations committee says this extra money could be a one-time thing…and it would be irresponsible to cut taxes at this stage. The Tax Foundation says Missouri is 34th among the states in combined state and local tax burden. .