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DAVID ROSMAN: Missourians deserve better from our legislators

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:48 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 9, 2013

They are off and legislating, and the halls of the Gray Dome in Jefferson City are filled with confused women and men (not all, but most) trying to look like they know what they are doing. What they are about to do is scuttle our ship of state.

With the GOP’s super majority, who knows what we might, or might not see, come May. What will our state representatives and senators actually accomplish in 2013? To that end, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board asked two hard questions.

“What have the Republicans done with those majorities in (the last) decade?” The answer is not much.

“If cutting taxes was supposed to pave the road to prosperity, why all the potholes?” Well?

Since 2003, the P-D reports, Missouri’s tax burden has been one of the lowest in the nation. But has this reduction of taxes improved the lives of our citizens? In the simplest terms — no.

While the GOP is blaming all of the current ill of state on Gov. Jay Nixon and President Barack Obama, Republicans have proved without a shadow of a doubt that their own policies and Ronald Reagan’s “trickle-down economics” do not work and that giving more to the wealthy and big business does not equate to economic prosperity for the rest of us.

Jefferson City-based Associated Press reporter David Lieb provided us with a “Hall of Shame” list on the last day of 2012.

  • Missouri's health care and child care is gravely ill.
  • Our public schools are badly underfunded, even by Missouri standards.
  • Missouri has instituted greater restrictions concerning women’s reproductive rights.
  • There is no marriage equality for nonmarried couples regardless of sexual orientation.
  • The state’s unemployment and prison population numbers are reaching new records.

Is this the legacy Missouri's Republican legislators want? Is this how our conservative legislators will be remembered in 2013 — as the political party that did nothing for Missouri citizens? Let’s see …

State Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R- Cape Girardeau, and Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, R-Lake St. Louis, have introduced bills that would “… fully protect the rights of an alternatives-to-abortion agency and its officers, agents, employees and volunteers to freely assemble and to freely engage in religious practices and speech without governmental interference.” Really? This is already written into the federal and state constitutions. Why are you wasting our time and money?

Representing Missouri’s northwest corner, state Sen. Brad Lager wants a constitutional amendment that would create a “… cash operating reserve fund to be used to reduce all state income tax rates,” if more tax revenues than anticipated are collected. Can’t the funds be better used to improve schools, health care for the poor, elderly and veterans, to create jobs and to fix the roads?

Rep. Delus Johnson, R-Savannah, wants to reduce corporate taxes as a method of increasing employment. This is and will continue to be a failed policy, so why would Mr. Johnson want to continue to bang our heads against the wall.

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Carthage, wants to allow our K-12 teachers and administrators to carry firearms at school. Yes, let’s arm the teachers and reduce public K-12 funding at the same time.

This is a partial list, more are being filed, and proof positive that our legislators will use their 2013 veto-proof majority to sink Missouri deeper into the economic and human whirlpool.

One of the few lights on the horizon is our own Sen. Kurt Schaefer; at least his bills are not drilling new holes in our hull.

Imagine: Missouri with a healthy and well-educated work force, with our K-12 and universities properly funded and being known as a state that takes care of our own. More businesses would want to expand into the state, and more people will be employed. Isn’t that the goal?

However, that would make Missouri’s GOP over-populated legislature look, well, human, and we cannot allow that to happen, can we?

Ladies and gentlemen of the Gray Dome, now is the time to look at your own history and ask yourselves one question: Can we do better?

It appears that the GOP will continue to drill holes in our state’s fiscal hull. It is our job, as citizens of this state, to stop them and stop them now … before our ship is dragged under.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.


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