RICHMOND – Missouri needs to add fiscal reality to the promise of fiscal conservatism, a Republican contender for Missouri governor, Rep. Jim Neely, M.D., said Tuesday.
Neely – whose district includes Lawson, which straddles Clay and Ray counties – asked how state leaders can say Missouri has a balanced budget when this state is millions of dollars in debt. He cited examples to support his position.
“Our counties aren’t getting their money from the state,” Neely said, “for the incarceration of people on state charges.”
The state owes millions of dollars to counties, Ray among them, for the cost of housing inmates in county jails. The state has been as much as a year behind paying the debt owed to Ray County.
Ray County Treasurer Melissa Holloway reported the state is 11 months behind and $177,800 behind, having not submitted a payment to the county since October.
Another situation involves hospitals around the state, including Cameron Regional Medical Center, where Neely practices.
“My hospital is owed $3 million on some Medicaid money,” he said. “They just received their 2013 payment in March.”
A hospital spokeswoman said the debt
is about $3.1 million and encompasses fiscal years 2014 through 2018.
Aside from the state paying school districts only a portion of the actual cost to transport students and being in arrears on payments to counties and hospitals, Neely said everyday Missourians also have been subject to the state’s failure to pay bills in timely fashion.
“People are not getting their income tax refunds back,” he said. “I’ve had to make inquiries to the revenue office.”
State lawmakers say there is a balanced budget, they are required by law to balance the budget, but when the state has overdue unpaid debts, the budget is not balanced, Neely said.
“That’s what I’m seeing,” he said.
Neely is expected to face Mike Parson, the state’s unelected governor, in the August primary. Neely is term-limited and cannot seek re-election to the House.
Parson announced Monday that he planned to seek election as governor. Late Tuesday, President Trump endorsed Parson.
“He is very strong, popular and knows what he is doing – he gets it!” Trump said.
While lieutenant governor, Parson moved up to the position of governor following the resignation in disgrace of Gov. Eric Greitens, whose plethoric problems included allegations of being a sexual predator and ignoring Missouri’s Sunshine Law.
Neely, 68, said he has no personal issues with Parson, who will turn 64 Tuesday. But he does not like that the state on Parson’s watch in May gave a huge tax break to General Motors while the state lacked the tax income needed to pay bills on time.
“But we can’t pay the health care people, we can’t pay the counties, we can’t get our roads improved. What are we doing? Let’s ‘manage,’ instead of worrying about ‘the show,”’ Neely said. “That’s why I’m running.”