I read several newspapers daily to keep informed. Last week I noticed that Jack Miles, Editor of the Warrensburg Daily Star Journal, wrote a column that really made sense to me…reduce the size of state government by reducing the numbers of our elected state officials.
Recently the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Jefferson City News Tribune also voiced strong opinions on this subject. The Missouri House of Representatives currently has 163 members and the Missouri Senate has 34 members. Only three other states in the nation have more House members than Missouri (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Georgia). Missouri has more state representative than the state of California who has more than six times the population.
Four bills have been introduced in the legislature to reduce the number of representatives in Missouri from 163 to 103. This change is estimated to save the state approximately $4 million per year. While each state representative currently serves 36,724 people in their district, if the House size is reduced to 103 members they would then serve 58,145 people in their district. I am sure politics will help decide this issue but common sense says that Missouri has more state representatives than we need and the state could use the $4 million savings to restore some of the recent budget cuts.
Frankly, I have thought for a long time that more cities need to follow the lead of former Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Carol Marinovich and combine city and county governments together into one operation. If that happened we could also reduce the number of separate fire departments, police departments, public works departments, parks departments, etc.
With reduced city, county budgets we have to think about different ways to provide necessary services to our residents at a reduced cost without hurting our citizens who rely on government to provide needed services that no one else can provide. It is time to be bold and to create a new paradigm for local and state government. Carol Marinovich has showed us that it can be done.