Chamber Develops Legislative Priorities
Each year at this time, The Chamber’s legislative program for Missouri and Kansas for the upcoming year is developed by the Chamber members and sent to the board for their input and approval. Concerns are that very little will happen this year in both legislatures other than dealing with the budget and how to continue to fund education. Education is the last thing legislators want to cut – particularly in an election year.
Missouri Highway Commissioners in town
Also each year at this time, Missouri six transportation commissioners come to town for the annual meeting in Kansas City (today at the President Hotel) preceded by a welcome reception for the commissioners hosted by The Chamber and sponsored by a number of leading Chamber companies, including Burns and McDonnell, the Heavy Constructors Association, HDR and HNTB. This year the reception was preceded by a bus tour for the commissioners to see first hand the major MODOT projects underway in the area. The highlight of the day was a ride on a barge onto the Missouri River to view close-up the new Christopher S. Bond bridge project. At $245 million it is the largest single project in MODOT history. On the barge ride, which was as smooth as silk, one really gets a first hand view of the strength of the Mighty Mo’s current. Thanks to Beth Wright, District MODOT, Pam Harlan, the Highway Commissioner secretary and the entire MODOT team for arranging the barge experience. Seen from below, it is one very large structure!
COMBAT passes overwhelmingly
Kudos to Mike Sanders and the COMBAT team who led the renewal of the anti-drug tax which the voters approved yesterday by 71%. Though turnout was a dismal 7%, Sanders and his team deserve credit for such a huge victory. Congratulations as well to leaders in Independence who took a $85 million school bond issue to the voters and received 68% of the vote. The funds will be used to build two new schools and several other renovation projects.
Kansas Revenues Down $111 Million
The Chamber is closely watching revenues in both Missouri and Kansas. While September tax revenues were down $67 million (12.5 percent) from projections, we were pleased to see, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue, October tax revenues were off just $14.7 million or 3.6% below estimates. Four months into FY 2010 state revenues are running about $111 million (6.5 %) below estimates on which the state budget was crafted.
As revenues continue to fall, K-12 enrollment in Kansas has gone up about 1,700 pupils from last year’s projections with more “at-risk” students and more who qualify for free or reduced price school lunches. K-12 funding makes up about 51 percent of the state’s annual budget.
Until next week—Cheers!
Kristi Smith Wyatt