Tue January 11, 2011
Mo. Senate holding "Rebooting Government" meetings
For the second year in a row, the Missouri Senate is seeking direct public input for ways to, in its words, "reboot government."
Senate members are holding seminars this week to discuss the ideas sent in via email.
During a meeting of the group examining the Office of Administration and general government issues, State Senator Jim Lembke (R, St. Louis) brought up a proposal to do away with the Spanish-language version of the State Attorney General's website.
"Why don't we inquire about the idea that by maintaining that (website) and having it up, there is added cost (to the state)?" Lembke said.
That prompted a question from State Senator Brian Nieves (R, Washington, Mo.).
"I would even wonder if that might possibly violate our state constitution that says all official proceedings of this state will be done in English?" Nieves said.
But in a brief statement, Attorney General Chris Koster (D) said the English-only requirement only applies to meetings.
Some of the ideas submitted to the meetings came from lawmakers themselves. During a meeting on education issues, Senate Minority Floor Leader Victor Callahan (D, Independence) proposed cuts to the public school funding formula that he says would save the state about $80 million. The cuts would include capping the amount of money that goes to schools in financially well-off districts, which are commonly referred to as "hold-harmless" districts.
"Currently in the (funding) formula, it's provided that a hold-harmless district can receive more than two times the funding," Callahan said. "A practical idea might be that you cap it at two times."
Callahan says that alone would save the state nearly $32 million.
Another idea sent in by email is one calling for the elimination of Missouri's Parents As Teachers program, which underwent budget cuts last year.