There are chinks in the armor. At least some wounds in the side of the pachyderm. As we come closer to the Missouri special legislative session, the GOP members of the House are not all lining up behind the leaders. Or the Missouri Chamber of Commerce or Rex Sinquefield and his money.
I really admire Rex Sinquefield. An orphan who pulled himself up by his own boot straps to become one of the richest Missourians of the day. I admire his steadfastness of political positions, although it is as much self-serving as it is politically libertarian. However, it seems that money does not always buy “happiness,” like a 5.5-percent tax rate our Show-Me citizens.
The idea of the breaking of the ranks within the Missouri GOP House is not that surprising even with Texas Governor Rick Perry getting into the act. His short-lived radio commercials, an attempt to “steal” businesses away from Missouri ran for only a short time on St. Louis’s KTRS, did nothing to help move the few House members to change their minds.
Those who one would assume to be allied with Sinquefield and his ilk are breaking ranks. Even Perry’s interference with Missouri politics is not working to align the members to vote the “party line.” The Columbia Chamber of Commerce is now supporting the governor’s veto of HB253.
If the GOP cannot count on its members, they will … threaten them?
Ah yes, it seems that the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Club for Growth have indicated that if a “conservative member” of the House votes against overriding the veto (votes “no”), then monies for their re-election campaigns just might dry up, or they just might find themselves with a primary challenge. It is time to ask: “Is this any way to run a political party, by threats and possible expulsion by force? Excommunication from the Pachyderm Club?!”
Being like Kansas or Texas is not necessarily a good thing. With its low tax rate, Kansas now has a deficit budget, and Texas has some of the highest sales and property tax rates in the nation. With those two states dominated by right-wing conservatives and libertarians, things will only get worse.
Our advantage? A stable tax base and a sensible governor. OK, maybe not all of the time, but as it concerned vetoing HB 523, Gov. Jay Nixon was on the mark. Even with the likes of Texas and Kansas knocking at Missouri business doors, we still kept or saw expansion by Boeing, Monsanto, Express Scripts, Cerner, Expedia, Ford and General Motors in our sandbox. Not bad for a state that maintains a lower rate of unemployment than the national average.
Columbia and Boone County are the middle of Middle America. We are progressive and conservative, young and old, liberal and libertarian. Lower taxes might sound good, but in reality we need to ask ourselves how the monies will be replaced and who will take the hit?
We know our school districts and public post-secondary institutions will suffer with the loss of any tax revenue.
We know hiking sales and property taxes disproportionately affects the poor, lower and fixed-income families and individuals.
We know services will be cut by the state and local authorities when the state budget falls short and must be balanced on the backs of our infrastructure.
We know when lower income families receive a few extra bucks in their paycheck, they are not spending the money on new goods or luxury items. They are paying off bills, like the city utilities or credit cards or other short term loans. This money is not being recirculated into the economy, but paying usually exorbitant interest rates on payday loans.
We know the mantra of the veto override groups is that the return of the approximately $400 million will end “wasteful spending” by the state government. The question we are failing to answer is: “What wasteful spending?” Yes, there is some, but that is a truth with government as it is with business. There will be money wasted on pork or whimsical projects. But what are the offenders in Missouri?
Damn Kansas and Texas. Let’s keep Missouri’s higher employment rate and corporate trust. Let the veto of HB 253 stand and get back to governing the business of the state with integrity.
David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He writes a weekly column for the Missourian.