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Lobbyist Money Help  

A Penny Saved...

October 31, 1996
By: LARA HEARNBURG
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Many Missourians save part of each paycheck just in case of an emergency. November 5, voters will decide whether the state should do the same. One of the ballot proposals would create a state "rainy day fund" for emergencies.

The state legislature voted this past session to propose a constitutional amendment in the general election that would create a "Budget Stabilization" or "rainy day" fund.

Senate Republican Leader Frank Flotron, R-St. Louis County, supported the proposal in the Senate.

"For some reason the legislature had rather spend money than save it," Flotron said, "Just like everyone in the world sets up a Christmas fund or a college fund for their kids, the state needs to as well. This is just a mechanism to make sure the money is saved."

Richard Hanson, Commissioner of the state Office of Administration, said the fund has two purposes: it can be used when general revenue is below what was projected, and it can be used as a relief fund in the case of a natural disaster.

"The money is already there, but the statute does not allow it to be used in a natural disaster," Hanson said. "It's important that you have this kind of reserve, because you need to be prepared. The only alternative is to call a special session, but in the '93 floods we couldn't get everybody [the legislators] in because the roads were closed, and so we couldn't have a vote to get to the money."

Hanson noted there has been very little opposition to the proposal.

"There's not too many things you get everybody to agree on," he said, "But when you do, it's usually a good sign that it's a good thing."

House Budget Committee Chairman Shelia Lumpe, D-St. Louis County, sponsored the ballot issue in the House. She that the idea of a rainy day fund was uniformly supported in the legislature.

"I'm not aware of any organized opposition at all," she said. "I think it is a prudent thing for the state to do; just as families put away money for rainy days, the state needs to also. It's a good business practice, a good practice for families, and a good practice for the state."

Sen. Emory Melton, R-Cassville, who serves on the Senate Budget Control Committee, agreed that the amendment was widely supported, and said it is especially important that voters support the issue as a constitutional amendment.

"This has been a problem for years and years and years. It's imperative it's made a constitutional amendment, because otherwise a simple legislative vote could change it, and the money won't be there when we need it."