The Missouri House Speaker describes the 2018 legislative session as the most successful implementation of conservative reforms in state history.
The House Democratic leader says Missouri Republicans pushed an anti-worker agenda.
House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, briefed Capitol reporters Friday evening in Jefferson City, after the session ended.
“What we began last year with an aggressive common-sense agenda to tackle our state’s toughest challenges was continued with even greater vigor this year,” Richardson says.
Richardson says the 2018 session has been a historic success.
Republicans control the Missouri House 115-47.
Richardson says House Republicans pushed policies that he says will make Missouri the most competitive economic environment in the nation.
“Tax reform, including tax cuts for personal income tax, corporate tax relief, a balanced budget that fully funds our education formula for the second year in a row,” says Richardson.
The budget approved by lawmakers earlier this month contains a $98 million increase for the k-12 education foundation formula.
The tax reform bill Richardson references is sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield. It reduces the existing individual income tax rate from 5.9 to 5.5 percent. That bill was approved by the Legislature on Thursday evening.
Richardson says House Republicans also successfully restored cuts to higher education this year, made improvements in public safety and invested in agriculture.
He also credits increased cooperation with the Senate, praising both Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City.
Despite a GOP supermajority in both chambers, Richardson did not get everything he pushed for.
During his 2018 opening day press conference in January, Richardson told Capitol reporters that ethics legislation from State Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, was one of his top priorities.
The Alferman bill would have banned gifts from lobbyists, and included exemptions for flowers, plants and any gift that would be given to all 197 state lawmakers, such as the “Taste of Jefferson City” meal event.
The House approved the Alferman bill in January by a 134-12 vote, but it died in the Senate.
Richardson also supports charter school expansion legislation. That bill died as well this year.
House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, also held a press conference on Friday evening, after Richardson concluded.
She is critical of Senate Republicans for not approving the ethics bill.
Beatty says Republican lawmakers approved legislation in 2018 “aimed at rolling back long-held worker protections.”
While Richardson describes the 2018 session as a “historic success”, Beatty describes it as a “session of scandal.”
“Unfortunately, with Missourians’ attention diverted by this sordid saga, Greitens’ party (Republicans) used the opportunity to enact an insidious anti-worker agenda,” Beatty says.
Leader Beatty says Republicans suppressed worker pay by voting to change Missouri’s prevailing wage law.
Beatty also says Republican legislators “defied the will” of more than 310,000 Missourians who signed petitions to place a right-to-work referendum on the November ballot.
The Legislature approved a resolution rescheduling the vote for August.
Beatty does praise the Legislature for approving a gasoline tax increase proposal, which goes to the November ballot.
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) did not hold an end-of-session press conference with reporters on Friday evening.
Greitens issued a statement on Friday, which read, in part: “I’m grateful that members of the General Assembly passed many important bills this session. I’m encouraged to see that so many of our shared priorities – reforms to our foster care system, protections for our veterans, new opportunities for Missouri students, important pro-jobs legislation, and more – are among the many accomplishments.”
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