Some veteran state legislators worry that term limits have hurt the process of deciding how much money will be spent on the state programs, services, and instutions that serve the taxpayers.
The House, which begins writing the budget, has several appropriations committees but the final decisions on the House version of the state budget are made by the Budget Committee. Of the 29 members of the Budget Committee that began the process of distributing more than 23-billion dollars to state programs, only one started this year with more than six years of experience writing and negotiating funding for state programs. Sixteen had fewer than five years Five members of the committee had never been legislators before, let alone members of the budget-writing committee.
Contrast that to Representative Chris Kelly, who served 12 years before term limits kicked in, and is back this year. He sees an information deficit among his term-limited colleagues. He was the House Budget Chairman in his first go-around. Kelly says he was worried when he became budget chairman that he did not know enough about the process although he had been vice-chairman for seven years. He says some people are becoming House committee chairmen and chairwomen with only two years of experience.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Gary Nodler thinks the intention of voters to de-politicize the legislative process has backfired. He says it has increased partisan and political pressures. He says term-limited Representatives wanting to run for the Senate next year are more likely to try to become purer in their ideological or partisan credentials so they can pursue that nomination. He thinks that has caused them to act in a more partisan ideological light.
Senator Joan Bray, the senior Democrat on the senate committee, says those whose time is limited are more likely to cater to the constituencies that got them into office and are less likely to work with others on shaping public policy
(The comments were made on "Capitol Dialogue," a monthly half-hour roundtable featuring legislators discussing with Bob Priddy the issues and legislation affecting all Missourians. A segment of the program is attached to this story.)