We caught up with Rep. Rick Stream (R-) after he was .
1. Patch: Why are you excited about this decision?
Stream: It’s an honor to be selected by Rep. Jones, the presumptive Speaker, to chair the House Budget Committee. It’s a tremendous responsibility that I take very seriously. Thankfully, the House Budget staff is excellent and I will be assisted by very capable members of the House. As a member of the House Budget Committee for 6 years and 4 years as the Vice-Chairman, I have become familiar with the state budget. I also have 30 years of federal government budget experience as well as 12 years working with school district budgets while on the Kirkwood School Board.
2. Patch: What are the biggest challenges facing the state's budget?
Stream: The challenges facing the state budget are to: balance the budget, to allocate the expected revenues to the programs that are determined to be priorities, and to eliminate waste and fraud. There are thousands of funding lines in the budget, and each one is important to a group of Missouri’s citizens. Our job is to prioritize those programs and maximize effectivenss in delivering services to Missouri’s citizens. Missouri’s budget is built on tax revenues received from its citizens (income tax, sales tax, corporate tax, capitol gains tax, and use tax). If Missourians are not working, all of those taxes are reduced. Prosperity funds our state government.
3. Patch: What steps do you plan to take in your new position to address these challenges?
Stream: I will utilize the six House Appropriations committees to thoroughly scrutinize every aspect of the state budget. They will look for efficiencies and areas to save dollars, while working with the departments to determine ways to streamline services. In addition, we will look for ways to increase private sector job hiring and expansion. Those jobs create the revenue to run our government.
4. Patch: What's the most frequent concern you hear from constituents about how Missouri spends money?
Stream: Most of the concerns I hear from citizens deal with funding for education, medical, mental health and special needs programs, and economic development efforts. All of those are high priorities and comprise most of the state budget.
5. Patch: Anything else you'd like to add?
Stream: The Missouri legislature has worked very diligently each year to balance the budget, cut spending, lower taxes, and ensure that we have a AAA bond rating, one of only seven states in the nation. I plan to continue on that same path.