House Democrats don’t see much to like when looking back at the legislative session.
Top House Democrat Paul LeVota of Independence says it’s hard to understand why majority Republicans spent so much time telling Congress what to do in non-binding resolutions. House Republicans approved so many of them, Democrats have tagged the session the “non-binding session”.
“Because, if you look at the things that were accomplished, they were very few and far in-between and have little to do with the future of the state of Missouri,” LeVota
Democrats fault the legislative session for passing the fewest number of bills since 2000. LeVota even criticizes the legislature for its major achievement: cutting more than $400 million from the budget sent to them by Governor Nixon. Shortly after submitted the nearly $24 billion state budget, Nixon asked lawmakers to cut $500 million from it. Seeking such savings consumed much of the session.
LeVota, though, says Republican refused to consider a balanced approach to the budget. He says House Republicans only look at making cuts and failed to consider measure that would have enhanced state revenue, such as reforming the state tax credit programs. The state has more than 60 tax credits that have grown to more than $600 million annually.
LeVota is disappointed no jobs bill emerged from the session.
“People in the state of Missouri need jobs and there was a lack of discussion basically because this Speaker and this Republican majority decided that it was more important to fight with the Senate than try to get something done,” according to LeVota.
The Nixon Administration offered several pieces of legislation to save money, but they didn’t just meet resistance from Republicans. Democrats were reluctant to approve such things as eliminating two state holidays.
“I personally, not speaking for the (Democratic) caucus, have a hard time getting rid of Harry Truman’s holiday,” LeVota says. “I’m from Independence, Missouri.”
Successes, according to LeVota, were passage of a mandate that insurance companies cover autism treatments and a crack-down on drunken driving laws. LeVota says he’s glad an ethics bill passed, but believes the one that made it through was watered down from a version approved by a special House ethics committee earlier.