State Budgets

Missouri State of the State: Government Should “Do Fewer Things and Do Them Better.”

Governor Greitens is chasing a comeback for the Show-Me State.

The Show-Me State’s 2018 legislative session is off to an exciting start, as Eric Greitens begins his second year as Missouri governor. His inaugural session in office focused heavily on the passage of right-to-work legislation, cutting onerous regulations and making government more efficient and less costly. In the governor’s 2018 State of the State address echoed many of the themes from last year, including the adage that Missouri’s state government “needs to do fewer things and do them better.”

Greitens spent much of his speech addressing tax reform, spending restraint and reducing the state’s regulatory burden. He declared this session will encompass “the boldest state tax reform in America” and promised to align state spending with available resources. The governor referenced several examples of prudent fiscal measures from 2017, including selling off underutilized state vehicles and cutting back on unneeded printing costs. He stressed the need to reform spending alongside reducing taxes. This emphasis on reining in fiscal excesses will help avoid the spending side pitfalls of neighboring Kansas. The American Legislative Exchange Council has pointed out time and time again, the Kansas tax reform package has more complexities and nuances than tax-and-spend proponents would like to acknowledge. In particular, the state enacted tax cuts without fully implementing spending reforms.

Greitens analogized the state’s overregulated environment to “plaque in the arteries of Missouri’s economy.” A thorough audit of all state regulations last year found more than seven million words on the books. Greitens declared the state plans to remove nearly one-third of these, equal to a whopping 33,000 regulations. Compliance costs burden both citizens and businesses. One academic study from the Mercatus Center found that “economic growth in the United States has, on average, been slowed by 0.8 percent per year since 1980” due to the cumulative costs of government regulations. Considering this, Governor Greitens is undoubtedly on the right track to boost the state’s tepid economic growth.

Missouri is currently ranked a mediocre 24th in terms of economic outlook in Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. The last edition’s rankings were released prior to when Missouri passed right-to-work legislation, but by using our new interactive tool at richstatespoorstates.org, factoring in right-to-work easily puts the state in the top 20 in 2017. If Governor Greitens and the Missouri Legislature can successfully lower taxes across the board and continue to reform the state’s regulatory environment, we could see a further improvement in ranking and the beginning of a great comeback story for the Show-Me State.


In Depth: State Budgets

Smart budgeting is vital to a state’s financial health. The ALEC State Budget Reform Toolkit offers more than 20 policy ideas for addressing today’s shortfalls in a forthright manner, without resorting to budget gimmicks or damaging tax increases. One way to stabilize budgets over time is to embrace …

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