The Missouri House and Senate may have only just begun their legislative years, yet both chambers appear to be setting a course that free marketeers can get a little excited about. First in the House, Speaker Elijah Haahr made clear in his first address to the chamber that economic growth and small government were key items in his legislative agenda, as detailed by Missourinet:
At the heart of our efforts is one of economic growth. Our message that Missouri is open for business cannot be just lip service coming from this building (the Capitol). The policies we pass must focus on cultivating employers and not controlling their businesses,” Haahr tells the House….
Haahr also focused on conservative policies during his address, saying that “gone are the old ways of thinking that public money alone can end our problems.” He tells the House that Missouri has passed a balanced budget without raising taxes for 15 years that “that will not change on our watch.
Other items, including some health care and transparency reforms, appear to have some inertia behind them, but time will tell what eventually makes the cut and can find a pathway through the Senate.
On the other side of the building, Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz laid out a similar vision as that of the House, focusing on employment growth and job training. A recent St. Louis Public Radio piece outlined his agenda:
We face an economy that is very different than the one many of us grew up in,” said Schatz, R-Sullivan. “Advanced, practical skills are the ticket to the middle class and economic prosperity. We need to invest in the citizens of our state by offering training opportunities, regardless of age and experience. And any Missourian that wants to better themselves through hard work and education should have their state as an ally.
What does seem clear is that both the House and the Senate are generally in step with Governor Mike Parson’s priorities of workforce development and infrastructure, particularly roadways. How the two chambers will come to an agreement on specific ways forwards is an open question; the Senate, for instance, may be more predisposed to use a new internet sales tax to fund some of these items—which as we’ve said before, should be a non-starter.
But all things considered, these are good starting places for state government to be beginning the year from. We’ll keep you posted on their progress or, heaven forbid, their lack thereof.