Area legislators updated their constituents in Branson Monday, speaking at the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon.
Missouri State Senator David Sater, as well as representatives Karla Eslinger, Brad Hudson and Jeff Justus each gave updates of the legislative session. Additionally, State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick and Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr also spoke during the luncheon.
Sater began the panel talking about the budgeting process, saying Missouri is in a good place financially.
“Things are looking pretty good for us,” Sater said. “We should have a nice surplus, and like Scott Fitzpatrick … said, we don’t want to spend every dollar we have. I was on the budget in the house for seven years and 2009-2010 we were instructed to start cutting general revenue. Our general revenue went down those years from $8 billion to $7 billion to $6 billion. That’s a very unpleasant experience to cut that much money, because when you’re cutting money you’re cutting programs.”
Eslinger used her time to talk about education. According to Eslinger, some good legislation came through the system in regard to education with the importance of the education formula being fully funded.
“When you have a fully-funded program, you’re able to truly budget well, you’re able to say ‘OK, I know what’s coming in,’ because the formula is funded,” Eslinger said.
“When it’s partially funded, you’re not sure which criteria – those components of the formula – are going to impact you more because of the percent that’s not funded. It truly helps in being able to develop and support programs long term for your kids.”
Hudson talked about the experience he’s gained as a freshman legislator and member of the House of Representative’s Budget Committee.
Hudson discussed his efforts to secure more funding for tourism by proposing a budget amendment in committee.
“You’ve got to hit the ground running, form those relationships and learn the process as best you can as quick as you can,” Hudson said. “That was something we were able to do to help this area, and it was an educational process for me.”
Justus said it’s been a privilege to represent his district and discussed significant developments in the Workforce Development Committee.
“If companies and organizations don’t perform, and don’t do what they say they’re going to do, like providing jobs or providing new infrastructure, there’s a callback process to where they won’t get the tax credits and they have to repay them,” Justus said. “I think that’s significant because it provides balance and makes them be responsible.”