Representative Ed Lewis's Capitol Report

April 09, 2024

Missouri House Signs Off on Fiscally Conservative Spending Plan: House Trims $2 Billion from Governor’s Proposals

The members of the Missouri House of Representatives have officially approved a $46.4 billion state operating budget for fiscal year 2025, which would begin in July. These 13 appropriation bills cover various areas such as fully funding the state's school foundation formula, increasing funding for higher education institutions, providing additional support for law enforcement and school safety, and allocating funds for nursing homes and child care providers. The House plan cuts $2 billion from the governor’s initial proposal, which come from a decline in Medicaid enrollment and COVID-19 relief efforts.

The objective of these bills is to distribute the state's resources effectively, prioritizing investments in crucial sectors including education, infrastructure, health, public safety, and transportation. However, the primary emphasis of this year's budgetary plans lies in bolstering the state's infrastructure; in particular, Missouri’s aging roadways.

The proposed plan will allocate millions of dollars to address the deteriorating condition of Missouri's roads and bridges. The aim is to enhance transportation infrastructure to better serve and protect the state's citizens, recognizing Missouri's significant role as a central hub for interstate commerce. Missouri boasts over 33 thousand miles of state highways, ranking seventh in the nation. However, around 5,500 miles endure the most of approximately 77 percent of the traffic. Among these are 1,385 miles of interstate highways, the fifth most extensive network in the U.S. Given their heavy reliance and high traffic volume, it is imperative to widen and reconstruct these crucial roadways.

It's important that we do not shirk our responsibilities, but instead acknowledge the pressing need for highway improvements and additional lanes. Rather than passing the burden to future generations, the aim is to be proactive, taking decisive action now to ensure the long-term viability and safety of Missouri's roadways.

Some of the key highlights of the Fiscal Year 2025 Budget are as follows:

$727.5 million investment for rebuilding I-44 (including six lanes at Springfield, Joplin, and Rolla)

$100 million for rural and low volume roads

$53 million for I-29 and I-35 improvements

Over $16 million in port infrastructure projects

$120.6 million increase to fully fund the K-12 education foundation formula

$14 million increase to fully fund school transportation

2% increase for colleges and universities

3.2% pay raise for state employees

$1.5 billion toward expanding broadband access

$8 million for the National Guard and Operation Lone Star to defend the southern border

$7.5 million for an aircraft maintenance facility at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base

$2 million for grants to pregnancy resource centers

Our priority in crafting the Missouri House budget plan is to align spending with projected revenue. As lawmakers, it is our responsibility to ensure our state avoids overspending and prioritizes budget sustainability for the future. This plan is a step in the right direction.

The bills now move to the Missouri Senate for consideration. The House and Senate will have to reach final agreement on the bills by Friday, May 10. To view the FY 2025 Appropriation documents, please visit:

Missouri House of Representatives Hosts Director General of Taiwan, Bill Huang

The House was honored to receive a visit from Director General Bill S.C. Huang, underscoring the enduring partnership between Missouri and Taiwan, and rooted in our shared commitment to democracy, freedom, and prosperity.

Director General Huang emphasized the importance of strengthening ties between Taiwan and the United States, particularly at the state level, during his address to the Missouri House of Representatives. He expressed gratitude for Missouri's steadfast support and dedication to democratic principles and human rights, acknowledging the state's efforts in fostering robust relations with Taiwan to address global challenges collaboratively.

Highlighting the growing economic and trade relations between Taiwan and the United States, Director General Huang noted the significant increase in bilateral trade, reaching $160 billion in 2022. He highlighted the importance of initiatives like the Taiwan-US Economic Prosperity Partnership and the Taiwan-US Technology Trade and Investment Framework in promoting this growth, despite challenges such as the pandemic.

Director General Huang also acknowledged the enduring sisterly relationship between Taiwan and Missouri since 1980, as well as Taiwan's evolution into a global economic powerhouse, particularly in high-tech manufacturing. Additionally, he commemorated the 45th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, promoting continued exchanges between the people of the United States and Taiwan.

Regarding the delicate relationship between Taiwan and China, Director General Huang emphasized Taiwan's commitment to peaceful coexistence and democracy. He referenced Mark Twain to illustrate Taiwan's resilience in the face of challenges, highlighting the determination of a smaller entity against adversity.

Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher reaffirmed Missouri's steadfast support for Taiwan amid growing hostility from China. He pledged unwavering commitment to championing freedom and democracy alongside Taiwan.

Following his address, Director General Huang honored State Representative Herman Morse for his exceptional contributions to fostering relations between Taiwan and the United States, presenting him with a prestigious Friend of Foreign Service medal and certificate.

This visit further solidifies the strong bond between Missouri and Taiwan, and I am confident that our continued partnership will yield mutual benefits for both regions.

Missouri House Passes HJR 86, Bringing Significant Reform to Initiative Petition Process

The Missouri House of Representatives has made a decisive move towards enhancing democracy with changes on how initiatives for constitutional amendments are handled in the Show-Me State. This resolution would significantly change Missouri's constitutional amendment process, reflecting a commitment to fair representation and citizen engagement.

Currently, initiative petitions proposing amendments to the Constitution require signatures from eight percent of the legal voters in 2/3 of the state's congressional districts in order to be placed on the ballot. HJR 86 would require signatures from eight percent of the legal voters in all of the state's congressional districts in order to place a Constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition on the ballot. Additional changes include alterations to signature requirements, provisions for public input, eligibility criteria, and measures to safeguard against foreign influence.

This is a balanced approach, where we strike a delicate equilibrium between the necessity for constitutional adaptability and the imperative of maintaining its integrity. But more than that, HJR 86 aligns with the federal constitutional process and protects our rural communities from the potential dominance of urban areas. By passing this resolution, we're strengthening the foundations of our democracy and ensuring that every voice matters.

Passing out of the House by a vote of 106-49, HJR 86 now moves to the Missouri Senate for further consideration.