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House passes resolution on budget surplus fund

Continuing its theme of fiscal responsibility, the Missouri House of Representatives Wednesday voted to allow the general public to weigh in on the creation of state budget reserve funds.

Under the proposal in HJR 75 sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Springfield), anytime the state takes in 1.5% more revenue than is budgeted in the state budget, the money will be distributed in a series of funds that can be used to balance state budgets in lean years.

If state revenues exceed the state budget by more than 2.5%, money will go into a fund that would allow in good times for a temporary .25 percent individual income tax cut.

The bill is similar to language considered in previous years that would provide a constitutional limit on spending authority.  While the Hancock Amendment protects taxpayers against tax increases without voter approval, there is no limitation on spending authority.

“This joint resolution, if approved by voters, would limit appropriations and use excess revenues to put some aside for times when revenues are insufficient,” said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri. “State government could learn a few lessons about saving for a rainy day from our business leaders who must do this to survive.”

The resolution, which was also sponsored by veteran House Budget Committee member Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), passed the House with a bi-partisan vote of 115-37. It now heads for the Senate, where it must pass before the measure would be placed on the November ballot.

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