By Susan Redden, The Joplin Globe, Mo.
Jan. 08–JOPLIN, Mo. — Southwest Missouri just got some extra clout when it comes to the state budget.
State Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, has been appointed to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which plays a key role in creating the state budget each year.
The appointment was made last week by Senate Leader Robert Mayer, R-Dexter. The committee considers all legislation relating to general appropriations and public funding.
Richard said he looks forward to “being a voice for Southwest Missouri on this important committee.”
The state’s revenue shortfall is projected at more than $400 million, Richard said, which will make creating a balanced budget for fiscal 2013 one of the General Assembly’s most challenging priorities.
“Our state faces tough fiscal decisions this year, but we will not pass a budget that relies on a tax increase,” he said. “Working families have to balance their budgets, and so should the state, without increasing taxes.”
Richard, a former Joplin mayor, also serves as vice chairman of the Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee. He is a member of the Transportation Committee, and the Ways and Means and Fiscal Oversight Committee. He was elected to the Senate in 2010 after eight years in the House of Representatives, including service as House speaker.
On the House side, Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, is a member of the House Budget Committee, and is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Health, Mental Health and Social Services.
Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, is a member of the House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources; Mike Kelley, R-Lamar, is on the Appropriations Committee on Education; and Bill Lant, R-Joplin, is on the Appropriations Committee on Transportation and Economic Development. Bill White, R-Joplin, serves on two House appropriations committees, health and transportation.
The 2012 legislative session opened last week, and leadership in the Senate and House both said a top priority is balancing the state’s budget without a tax increase.
In the Senate, Mayer said promoting economic development, reforming Missouri’s workers’ compensation law and revising the state’s school foundation funding formula also will be goals.
Several of those priorities also were part of a “Blueprint for Missouri” outlined by House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville.
Members of the Southwest Missouri Conservative Network who supported Herman Cain now favor former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum as the Republican presidential nominee. Cain, a former business executive, dropped out a month ago.
Santorum received 37 percent of the vote in a recent straw poll conducted by the group online and during a meeting. Santorum was followed by Newt Gingrich, with 15 percent; U.S. Rep. Ron Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 13 percent each; Mitt Romney, 12 percent; and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, 10 percent. The poll was taken before Bachmann dropped out last week after the Iowa caucuses.
Poll participants by a significant margin favored attorney Bill Randles as the candidate to challenge Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in November. Randles got 86 percent of the vote to 14 percent for David Spence.
State Sen. Brad Lager topped incumbent Peter Kinder as the choice for lieutenant governor. Lager, from Savannah, got 53 percent of the vote to Kinder’s 47 percent.
Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at email@example.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258.
(c)2012 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.)
Visit The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.) at www.joplinglobe.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services