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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Effort Underway to Shrink Missouri House From 163 Reps to 103

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 1:38 PM

click to enlarge Missouri voters would be asked to trim the fat.
  • Missouri voters would be asked to trim the fat.
If you work in the private sector in Missouri, chances are pretty good that your business experienced some downsizing (a.k.a. layoffs) over the last few years. That's not the case, though, for those public sector employees who happen to work on the floor of the State Capitol. 

There the number of state representatives has remained a staggering 163 -- the fourth highest number of state representative in the nation -- despite Missouri ranking 18th in terms of population and scheduled to lose a U.S. House seat because of our slow growth compared to other states.

Now a ballot initiative approved for circulation last week would ask Missouri voters to trim the fat by decreasing the size of the Missouri House of Representatives to 103 members. 

Earlier this month, former state auditor Susan Montee, now the chairwoman of the Missouri Democratic Party, laid out a convincing argument as to how such a cut would improve government while forcing legislators to own up to their rhetoric of fiscal responsibility. Here are some of her arguments as made in a March 7 op/ed to The Missouri Record.
The 2010 census data showed Texas, which has a lower House with 150 members, had a large gain in population during past decade and will be awarded four additional Congressional seats, yet this did not spark a movement in Texas to create a larger legislature.  I believe that the disappointing Census numbers and the consequent loss of a federal House seat should suggest a question to Missouri: why must we have such a big state government?...

Members of the Missouri House are currently paid $30,000 per year, plus a daily per diem when in Jefferson City and travel expenses. Here is the arithmetic: reducing the number of representatives by 60 will result in an immediate savings of over $1.8 million dollars. A reduction in the number of representatives will also result in a reduction of staff members and benefit obligations. Taxpayers could see a savings between $3 to $5 million dollars per year. The Republican State Auditor, Thomas Schweich, estimates the savings to be at least $4.7 million annually.

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