Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brown votes to keep salaries at current level

By Dan Brown
District 149 state representative

This year, the Missouri Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials recommended a cost of living increase for all elected officials and judges as well as an additional $1500 increase for associate circuit judges. House Concurrent Resolution 5, sponsored by Rep. Mike McGhee, R-Odessa, rejects the recommendations of the Commission and holds the salaries of elected officials at their current level. It’s always a sticky situation when legislation is brought to the House Floor concerning pay raises for elected public officials. However, considering the economic hardships our country is facing, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would support an increase in pay for public servants. I don’t think it is fair to ask for an increase in my salary while many of you may be struggling to make ends meet. Because it was the right thing to do, I voted to support this resolution and hold salaries of elected officials at their current level.

Last week the Missouri Housing and Development Commission announced a new program for first-time homebuyers that would allow them to take advantage of the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit that Congress passed last summer. As passed, the federal tax credit was only available after the homebuyer purchased the home and applied for the credit. Under its new program, the Housing and Development Commission will provide the value of the tax credit at the time of closing to help first-time homebuyers cover down payment and closing costs.

The Housing and Development Commission’s new program provides the buyer with a short-term, advanced loan up to six percent of the home’s purchase price or a maximum of $6,750. The homebuyer then files for the federal tax credit and uses it to pay back the Housing Development Commission for the loan and service fee. It is my hope that by infusing new buyers into the market, a ripple effect will spread through the market. The first-time buyers buy their new home, the sellers in turn buy a new home, and so on, starting the market on an upward climb, increasing demand for new homes and creating jobs, both in the construction and real estate industries.

The housing market is an integral part of and a good indicator of the overall health of our economy. By providing a jumpstart to the market and helping first-time buyers enter the market, we hope to begin the slow process of economic recovery.

This week a number of folks from Rolla and St. James visited the Capitol: Barry White, Terry and Connie Douglas, Malcolm Townes and Mike Koeningstein, Amy Beechner-McCarthy, Robyn Wolf and Denny Pogue.

As always, thank you giving me the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives. Your thoughts and suggestions are important to me so please feel free to contact me at 573-751-5713 or by email at dan.brown@house.mo.gov.

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