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Lawmakers Reflect on First Half of Session

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/lawmakersr_216.mp3

This week, Missouri lawmakers are on Spring Break. At this halfway point in the legislative session, KSMU's Missy Shelton spoke with several Springfield representatives and asked them to evaluate how the session is going so far. You'll hear from Republicans Bob Dixon and B-J Marsh and Democrat Sara Lampe.

Bob Dixon: District 140. I represent the northeast part of Springfield and the southeast part of Greene County, including Rogersville and Strafford and some unincorporated areas. It's been a great session. Probably one of the best things we've done is not rushed through a bunch of legislation. We've really taken our time and been very deliberative. We've probably been known for what we have not done than other legislatures in the past. Last year, we probably passed three year's worth of legislation and got it all done in one year. I think it's great because we haven't done things rash or without giving it a lot of deliberation. We've really slowed down and taken our time and made sure that what we're doing is not something that's going to bring harm or detriment to the people we serve. As far as budget, I'm thrilled there's $167 million in additional money for schools, highest level of funding in the history of the state. Almost $9 million more for community colleges. About a 2% increase for higher ed, which is wonderful when we were told six months ago that they could be looking at a 10% decrease. All told, it's very good news and we've done very well managing the last three years and we've begun to turn the corner and I'm pleased to be a part of that.

Sara Lampe: I represent the 138th district. This is the second year of my first term. I would rate the session from my point of view as kind of like Sisyphus who is pushing that ball up the hill and it keep rolling backwards. When I think about why we're here and what we're trying to do on a daily basis which is make Missouri a better place for Missouri citizens, everyday we're on the floor that we vote, citizens are not better off than they at the end of the day than they were last year. I'm concerned about that. Every vote requires 82 votes. The recommendations I'm seeing on the floor and the amendments for the citizens are being defeated overwhelmingly by the majority party. I continue to believe that we need to fight for the rights for Missouri citizens. I'm dismayed right now because we've just come through a week of budgeting and budget bills. And almost without exception, every bill to put money back with citizens of Missouri was voted down. At every turn, when we were trying to place money in the budget to make peoples' lives better, it was defeated. Not across the board, 100% but the majority of those were defeated. The other thing that dismays me is that we have money left on the table. The argument made last year as to why we took people off health services is because we didn't have the money. And yet today we're looking at a surplus. We're looking at more money than we had last year yet there's still not the political will on the part of the majority party to put people back on healthcare.

BJ Marsh: I represent the 136th district. It seems to me it's gone kind of slow. Of course, last year we got the name change through for Missouri State University and that was exciting to me. I don't know if it's just me because of being active before with the name change. I've had some had some tourism committee bills this year but it seems like it's dragging on a little bit. I'm going to miss about 3 weeks of session. I've got to have a heart procedure done in Cleveland, Ohio at the Cleveland Clinic. I think sometimes the less bills we have or the less laws we make, it saves the taxpayers some money. On the flip side of that, I think there are ways we can save more money. I question whether we need as long a session as we have in Jefferson City. That's probably not the most popular thing to say among the other legislators. I think we could do what we do in a shorter time and save the taxpayers money.