The Missouri House of Representatives gave first-round approval Wednesday to a bill that would prohibit illegal immigrants from attending public colleges and universities. The bill would be in compliance with a federal law of the same nature.
“It does not make sense, does not make economic sense, to spend taxpayer money to train a workforce that is not able to legally work here in the United States or in Missouri,” said Rep. Jerry Nolte, R-Gladstone.
The House has tried twice to pass similar bills but they have always been stalled in the Senate.
Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, argued that illegal immigrants are valuable to higher education and that much greater threats to universities exist.
“Immigrants bring a lot to our institutions,” he said. “They bring an immigrant work ethic. It’s a work ethic that we saw in the 1800s and 1900s that helped build this country.”
Some lawmakers expressed concern over the cost to universities, but Nolte said there should not be concern over the cost of following the law.
“I think compliance with a federal law is not something that is a special expense,” he said. “If we were interested in strictly saving money, we could relieve the universities of complying with any law.”
Scott Charton, University of Missouri System spokesman, said the system supports the bill and the program would require no extra funding from students or the state.
Should Missouri allow illegal immigrants to attend the state’s public universities?
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned Wednesday morning after he was identified as a client of an online prostitution ring. His resignation is effective at noon Monday, March 17.
Spitzer was identified as a customer of the ring, known as Emperor’s Club VIP, during an Internal Revenue Service investigation triggered by reports of suspicious activity that banks have to file with the Treasury Department. IRS agents discovered transactions with Spitzer (referred to as “Client 9”) in mysterious accounts that belonged to a prostitution ring.
Later, a wiretapped conversation in which Client 9 arranged to meet with a prostitute in Washington D.C. was discovered. “Client 9” turned out to be Spitzer.
With his wife, Silda, at his side the governor appeared March 11 to make a brief public statement that he had behaved in a way that was out of line and that he needed to regain the trust of his family. His official resignation did not come until Wednesday.
Lt. Gov. David Paterson will take over Spitzer’s office Monday. He will be New York’s first black governor.
Spitzer could face charges for conspiracy and money laundering and for his hand in interstate travel for the purpose of prostitution.
Should investigators pursue prosecution since the scandal has already ruined Spitzer’s career and reputation?
Pay for City Council
At forums sponsored by the Central Columbia Get Out the Vote Committee, four candidates for City Council spoke up last week in favor of paying members of the council.
To do so would require an amendment to the city charter. Currently the council duties are defined as strictly a volunteer effort. The First Ward candidates all agreed that council members should be paid but had different opinions about how to go about it.
Karen Baxter is a registered nurse who lives in the Ridgeway neighborhood. She supports a salary for City Council members but thinks citizens might be unwilling to agree to additional costs with the poor state of the economy.
Almeta Crayton, the three-term incumbent for the First Ward, said although there would be benefits to the stipend, it’s not the reason she joined the council. She said she could put any extra money to use elsewhere in the ward.
First Ward candidate John Clark has been campaigning for the stipend for the past four years. He believes the stipend should not come as a salary but in the form of office space and staff assistance for its members.
Paul Sturtz, co-founder of Ragtag Cinemacafe and the True/False Film Festival, recommends a stipend of about $1,000 a month. The First Ward candidate said a City Council job takes about 20 hours a week. He also said the stipend would encourage more people to run in the future.
Do you think Columbia’s City Council members should receive pay for their work?
Students Look At Budget
About 250 students and teachers attended a Speak Your Mind forum on Wednesday night about “The Crime Spike in Columbia.” High schoolers asked questions about school funding and the trend toward violent crime.
“What activities is the School Board going to cut?” 16-year-old Jessy Hwang asked the panel. The panel struggled to answer many of the questions.
The panel included Board President Karla DeSpain; Lorenzo Lawson, executive director of Youth Empowerment Zone; Mayor Darwin Hindman; Phil Steinhaus, CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority; and Officer Michael Hayes of the Columbia Police Department’s community services unit.
Essentially, the answer to many questions was an absence of funding to meet the city’s needs.
Lawson said lack of support from homeowners is hurting the school budget.
“Only a few adults are standing up for you, but that is not enough,” he said.
Hindman agreed. “If the people would support the schools to the extent they need to be supported,” cuts would not be necessary, he said.
Other students expressed fear for their own safety. One said she knew teens who had been arrested on suspicion of stealing, fighting and sexual assault.
Meanwhile, the Columbia Police Department had to pull three resource officers out of Columbia schools in January to patrol the streets in an effort to curb violent crime.
Should students have a bigger voice in the allocation of school budget funds?
Tax Breaks for Hybrid Buyers
The Missouri House of Representatives gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill that would give tax breaks to citizens who buy hybrid cars.
Democrats opposed the bill until a limitation was approved to make the tax breaks applicable only to hybrid vehicles manufactured in the U.S. to not encourage consumers to buy foreign cars instead of American ones.
Rep. David Sater, R-Cassville, the bill’s sponsor, said the incentive is meant to spur Missourians to drive vehicles that are more environmentally friendly.
The tax breaks would allow hybrid buyers to deduct $2,000 or 10 percent of the vehicle’s price – whichever is lower – from their taxable income that year. The breaks would start this tax year.
Some hybrid vehicles cost as much as $20,000. Legislative researchers say the tax break would cost the state about $500,000 in its first year and increase to more than $840,000 by 2010. The incentive would expire in six years.
Rep. Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis, was one of many who called for the ban on using the breaks for foreign cars, saying outsourcing has hurt the state’s economy.
Several lawmakers felt that restricting how the bill could be used would limit its effectiveness.
Would a tax break make you more likely to buy a hybrid vehicle?