Keep the Line Moving: Looking Beyond the 2017 Session
The Missouri legislative session ended May 12th, and there are enough storylines of intrigue, failure, and victory to fill a season of Game of Thrones. There was shouting and foot-dragging and name-calling, but by the time the session ended at 6:00 pm last Friday, several substantive reforms had gone to the governor for his signature. Right to Work, the elimination of Project Labor Agreements, minimum wage harmonization, TNC reforms, and the success of Article V convention legislation all qualify as important advancements for the state. That the state has fully funded the formula for K-12 schools also deserves recognition.
The accomplishments of the session still leave Missouri far from where it needs to be. And certainly we would offer our 2017 Blueprint as a baseline for the sorts of reforms our state needs going forward. That menu of reforms includes the elimination of the state’s Certificate of Need laws; expansion of school choice through education savings accounts, charter schools, and course access; and substantive transportation and labor reforms to make sure that the state can compete for jobs and capital, whether already in the state or currently outside of it. Alongside the policy, we need procedural reforms in the state Senate where an historic number of bills languished and died; indeed, a filibuster on the last day of session nearly killed the state’s minimum wage reforms.
Still, there is ample room for optimism. The governor’s Committee on Simple, Fair and Low Taxes seems well-positioned to make 2018 the year of serious tax reform. Those reforms should include advancement of an earned income tax credit, the reform of state and local tax incentives, and the reduction of taxes on individuals and businesses in the state. Moreover, the passage of some priorities this year obviously clears space for the passage of other priorities in education, labor, and other areas that didn’t make it to home plate as the 2017 session closed.
The key, as some Kansas City Royals fans might put it, is to “keep the line moving.” The legislature doesn’t have to hit a home run every time it steps up to the policy plate; it just has to keep hitting singles with increasing frequency. And as baseball fans would tell you, if you do those small things right, chances are good that big things will eventually come.
While we would all have loved to see a towering moonshot of a legislative session, the Legislature ultimately hit enough singles to merit a cheer from free marketeers. Missourians had a good inning; we’re looking forward to seeing bigger and better things happen in the next one.