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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Time for state legislators to put sound economy on front burner

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST

The Missouri General Assembly has begun the 2014 session. After years of gridlock and infighting, this could be the year that the legislature takes real action for the state.

At least, we can hope. We expressed the same hope last year.

Our local legislators have given their priorities for the session, as has Speaker of the House Tim Jones of Eureka. While some have ambitious agendas, others are more targeted in their goals.

We also have a list of legislative priorities we would like to see the legislature achieve.

Our top priority is, as it has been for the past several years, the economy. Many of our other priorities hinge on the state’s economic picture improving, while some could contribute to that improvement.

Apparently, our readers agree with that priority. In a recent online — albeit completely unscientific — poll, more than half the 334 respondents chose the economy as the issue they would put at the top of Missouri’s legislative agenda. Coming in second, with nearly a quarter of the votes, was Medicaid.

The most important step the General Assembly can take is to be fiscally responsible — to balance the budget without putting a burden on our citizens, businesses and schools.

That is not an easy task, but by careful consideration of bonding and tax credits the legislature could create an atmosphere of economic support for communities and infrastructure that would, in turn, promote new and expanding business in Missouri.

Investment in the state — our workforce, our schools, our transportation system, and even our safety net programs — becomes an investment in business. But asking citizens to pay more in taxes or cutting taxes, which would also cut resources for the above mentioned, does not appear to be the best investment.

We would ask our lawmakers to focus on other economic initiatives.

Medicaid expansion is one initiative that could have a big impact on the economy. At least one legislator, Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, has supported Missouri joining the 25 states that have accepted the federal Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

It is time to take a serious look at how such a move could help the state’s bottom line — regardless of the political clamor.

Copyright The Springfield News-Leader. Reprinted with permission.


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Comments

Christopher Foote January 14, 2014 | 10:06 a.m.

If passed, medicaid expansion is estimated to generate 24,000 new jobs in Missouri in 2014 (Data from here: http://www.mffh.org/mm/files/MUMedicaidE...)
If improving the unemployment situation was a primary concern of our state legislators this would have been passed last year. Since it wasn't, I can only assume that those in the majority have an agenda that is decidedly at odds with what they say publicly.
Also, state legislators recently agreed to grant tax incentives to Boeing at a cost of $1.75 billion for 8000 jobs over two decades, but balked at creating far more jobs for roughly the same amount of money (Missouri would pay $330 million through 2020 for the expansion) when the beneficiaries were working class Missourians without health care. Makes one wonder who is being served by our legislators, Missourians or out of state corporate shareholders?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 14, 2014 | 3:04 p.m.

Chris: I noted the following in Table 3 on Page 18:

Nursing and residential care facilities: 5,094 jobs with a labor income of $144,537,880.

Dividing, I get $28,374 per job.

I hope that's not for nurses. Do you know what kind of jobs these are?
__________________

Employment and payroll only (state & local government, noneducation), 2,929 jobs, $138,182,669 payroll.

Does this mean we get 2929 more state jobs to administer all the rest?
___________________

About 40% of all the new jobs are expected in KCMO and StL.
___________________

I was unable to find anyplace in the document where the impact of lost dollars to the rest of us is taken into account. After all, even though this article says "The gov't picks up 100% for 3 years, down to 90% later", you and I both know this money has to come from somewhere other than a free-money pit. It will come from taxpayers either here, KS, NY, FL, WA, etc. Does that lost income via taxation cause reduction in other jobs not accounted for in the study?

For example, will I patronize a theater or theater or whatever by one less time/year because I don't have the cash for it? Will cumulative less patronization result in job losses elsewhere? Is this a distributive zero sum game, or something else?

BTW, don't walk outside with a kite today.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote January 14, 2014 | 4:28 p.m.

@MW,

In response to this:
"I was unable to find anyplace in the document where the impact of lost dollars to the rest of us is taken into account."

We are already paying for the expansion regardless of if we implement it or not. The payment mechanism was in the ACA which passed in 2010. Federal tax dollars collected from Missourians are, in part, funding the expansion for other states; by saying "NO" we still pay the taxes, we just don't receive any of the benefits.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 14, 2014 | 8:26 p.m.

Chris: And other states would be funding Missouri. Cyclic money......

I suspect if we simply reserved the tax money to pay off doctor and ER hospital visits by the uninsured, we'd end up saving one helluva lot of money. And much less chaos and aggravation.

I wasn't too impressed with those jobs, were you? Personally, I would have wished for the Boeing jobs instead. For our state, making stuff interests me more than not-making-stuff.

We'll know a whole lot more about the ACA a year from now. For now, I'm content that Missouri watches and waits.

PS: Re: the ACA. Patients end up with insurance, but are still faced with their portion of the premium plus deductibles plus out of pocket expenses. But, let's track the money itself. Where does it end up? Who gets it?

(Report Comment)

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