Kansas City, MO – On Friday, May 22, 2020, Missouri taxpayer Ryan Johnson filed a lawsuit against Missouri Secretary of State John “Jay” Ashcroft to stop the unconstitutional abuse of the initiative petition process as it relates to Medicaid Expansion Initiative Petition 2020-063 (the initiative).
“The Missouri Constitution very clearly requires an initiative petition to identify a revenue source to fund the objectives of the initiative. Initiative Petition 2020-063 expands access to Medicaid with a staggering estimated cost of $2 billion annually and does not address how to fully pay for it. This initiative, as certified by Secretary of State Ashcroft, is unconstitutional on its face because it seeks to create what amounts to an unfunded liability in the Constitution.” said Ryan Johnson.
This lawsuit has been filed in Missouri’s 19th Judicial Circuit based in Cole County. Missouri’s Constitution, Article III, Section 51 contains a prohibition on appropriation by-initiative. The Constitution requires an initiative to spell out the source of its funding. An initiative may not appropriate funds from the general budget. The initiative does not identify or create new revenues to cover Missouri taxpayers’ portion of spending.
“The costs to cover Medicaid expansion will come directly off the top of the budget without any regard to available funds and the legislature will have absolutely no discretion over this spending. The proponents mention cost savings, but the department that operates the state Medicaid program on a day-to-day basis says it will cost state taxpayers at least $200 million. If the worst-case scenario plays out and the federal money goes away, Missouri taxpayers will be left behind to forever cover the entire annual bill of $2 Billion. This is wrong.”
If an initiative requires funding, the initiative must create a new revenue stream or identify an existing one. Initiative Petition 2020-63 does not do this. Therefore, it does not meet the constitutional threshold and should never have been certified.
Ryan Johnson is a Senior Advisor to United for Missouri and the Owner of Exemplar Public Affairs. United for Missouri is a longstanding nonprofit free-market policy development and advocacy group. Former Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem and former House Budget Committee Chairman Carl Bearden is UFM’s Founder and CEO.