For the first time since 1999, a Missouri Governor has proposed to reduce the number of state employees. Granted, Gov. Matt Blunt calls for just a decrease of 194 positions but that will drop the total state headcount to less than 60,000.
Blunt's plan was outlined last week during his State of the State address. His proposed $20.9 billion budget includes no major cutbacks this year, unlike last year. But as expected, the Democrats were quick to jump on the state plan for not taking care of every need of every citizen. I'll get back to that in just a moment.
In the meantime, Blunt wants to put another $658 million into the state Medicaid program which would bring that total spending to over $6 billion. That represents 29 percent of total state spending.
Blunt hit the nail on the head when he discussed Medicaid. Without some substantial reforms, that program alone will force a substantial tax increase and will continue to be the largest single program in the state budget easily outdistancing all other spending.
Blunt calls for an overhaul that would "stress personal responsibility and eliminate waste and fraud." We highly commend him for saying what needs to be said - far too many Medicaid recipients ignore personal responsibility and cost you far too much of your tax burden.
No one in their right mind wants to deny health care for anyone regardless of their ability to pay. That goes for both political parties. But when Medicaid recipients enjoy a higher level of health care than those who work and provide their own insurance, our system is upside down. I actually think Blunt and all Missourians would benefit from more investigators who would attack the abuse of the Medicaid system. I think we all know how the system is being abused but few are willing to stop the problem.
The Democrats meanwhile resorted to the same tired rhetoric that has plagued their party for decades. They want to provide more for the low income by financing those programs on the back of taxpayers. Yet they are unwilling at this point to say where they wants those taxes to start.
The Democrats hope to propose legislation that will provide "utility relief, insurance relief and affordable health care." They also want more money for public schools and good paying jobs. Whoopee! Tell us how you are going to fund these programs!
I'm getting increasingly tired of the partisan nature of state government. If the Democrats have a better plan that will help more people and not put additional burdens on taxpayers, why don't they put their plan before the public? I suspect that once taxpayers and businesses see what the cost of these programs will mean, there will be little support for more spending. The Democrats should spend less time talking about spending and more time talking about job creation. That and that alone is the only solution to our long-term problems.