House Budget chair cries out to Creator
By Allen Palmeri
March 21, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY – Rep. Allen Icet, R-Wildwood and a member of Ballwin Baptist Church, has one of the most stressful jobs in the Capitol right now. Icet is the new chairman of the House Budget Committee that had been feverishly trying to beat a deadline to make sure that its work would be done so that Missourians could be shown a glimpse of a sound and reasonable budget before it is ultimately finalized by May 5.
The Pathway caught up with Icet on the House floor March 9 and inquired about his need for prayer in the heat of the spiritual battle. Icet responded by commenting that he sure could use the prayers of the saints.
“I need the wisdom to go through the process and the patience to deal with people, sometimes in pressure-packed situations,” Icet said. “Sometimes tempers become short because it’s just focused. I need wisdom, guidance and patience in just dealing with the process, to make the process fair and open, because that’s what I really want to do.”
A native of Houston, Texas, Icet is an engineer by trade who has been placed in a key position by his fellow state Republicans, who have their hands on all three levers of power at the House, Senate and gubernatorial levels. Icet is operating within a majority bloc of fiscal conservatives that claims to be tackling the state’s financial challenges. Some members of the mainstream media have been questioning whether he will be up to the task.
“We may not be doing much on the House floor, because the process is we’re doing it all in committee,” he explained. “The committees are working very hard. We’ve been working since late January on the budget.”
Sure enough, almost as if he was on cue, Icet delivered on March 16.
Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Christian Life Commission (CLC) of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and founder of Missouri Family Network, can only imagine how deep and how wide Icet’s stress truly is.
“The process is excessively difficult,” Messer said.
The work that goes into crafting upwards of 20 immense bills that all add up to a little less than $21 billion is virtually incomprehensible to the average Missourian, Messer said.
“With almost 60,000 state employees spending the budget, you could see how $21 billion can get spent pretty easily in a year,” the 22-year veteran of Capitol governance said. “Everybody gets in a fight because everybody wants more money. It doesn’t matter whether they need the money or what they spend the money on. If they’re in charge of $10 or $10 million in their agency, they’re going to argue that it’s not enough and they need more.
“Constitutionally, the budget starts in the House. Allen Icet bears the brunt of all of the political haranguing that goes on, statewide, on who gets how much money. It’s his job not only to put up with the haranguing but to turn around to every single state agency, and every sub-classification of every state agency, and to ask the tough questions of accountability.”
Complicating Icet’s life even more is the fact that lawmakers may be in the midst of developing perhaps the largest state government budget in the history of Missouri, Messer said. Missouri became a state in 1821. The budget next goes to the Senate, which is likely to change it, the Associated Press reported.
“The state is growing economically,” Messer said. “We’re getting stronger and healthier. We do have record-breaking numbers of general revenue dollars to spend. There are some who say we’ve misplaced our priorities because we’ve cut on some of the social service spending areas, but we’re trying to shift priorities (from reliance on the government to reliance on the church). Many people in the state legislature are watching and waiting with baited breath to see whether the churches are going to perform their biblical role in helping to take care of the needy.”
Messer noted that Icet and others like him may very well be turning the flank at a key moment in our nation’s history.
“We want to see Baptist churches across the state of Missouri at minimum on their knees for people like Allen Icet—people who have to make the tough decisions,” Messer said.
In his spare time, Icet has also been assigned to handle one of the top-priority bills for social conservatives, the measure that would provide tax credits for pregnancy resource centers. Gov. Matt Blunt, who like Icet is a Southern Baptist, announced in a Oct. 25 speech to messengers of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) gathered at Second Baptist Church in Springfield that the tax credit bill was one of three pro-life provisions he would like to see passed in the 2006 Missouri General Assembly. At the time, the governor said he would like to see “tax credits to encourage private gifts and donations to the precious resource of pregnancy support centers,” and Icet is now charged with getting that bill through the House.
Representatives checking the House calendar of bills for perfection on March 14 found the bill second on the list.
“I believe that pregnancy resource centers are a vital component of our community helping women, or in some cases girls, who are pregnant to understand that they are carrying a baby,” Icet said. “It is not a fetus. It is a baby. There is a life. This is something where the community can directly help pregnancy resource centers and it really is somewhat of an encouragement, because it is a tax credit.”