Your Opinion: Stories reveal critical role of government

Dear Editor:

The News Tribune recently reported three stories that should make Senator Blunt and Congresswoman Hartzler pause in their drumbeat to dramatically cut discretionary funding programs. Those stories reveal the critical role government and its discretionary spending plays locally.

On Oct. 15, the Tribune reported on a federal program that assumes 80 percent of the cost of constructing county bridges if the county builds other smaller bridges according to federal code. Accumulating federal credits can eliminate the additional 20 percent obligation. Callaway County invested and was able to award $315,000 to local contractor Sam Gaines for his work on County Road 436 across Hillers Creek.

Essentially, if counties will build a certain number of smaller bridges, the county gets a bridge free. These are bridges whose cost counties normally assume

completely for all practical purposes.

On Oct. 16, a front-page piece reported on a school lunch program funded by the Department of Agriculture that provides low-cost and no-cost lunches for students whose families meet poverty level criteria. The proportion of Jefferson City students benefiting more than doubled to 48 percent since 1996. Only Blair Oaks managed a small decrease. Like Jefferson City, all other Cole County School Districts saw significant expansion.

Also reported on the front page the local Chamber of Commerce, which had previously relied upon city and county funding their economic development program, had been adding resources from one of their other funds to add to their “pool” for economic development, while also obtaining increases in total monies from the city and county from $150,000 per year to $300,000 per year.

The new word receiving cliché status is “fungible,” meaning money flows through the system and sometimes Republicans don’t want us to have choices on what we do with whatever resources we may have left after including government money or benefits that we may receive. Isn’t it nice that there is fungible government money to feed 4,500 Cole County students and over 1,100 in Callaway plus build bridges in need of replacement so Jefferson City and Cole County have $300,000 to invest in economic development?

The question becomes, if Republican policies of cutting reach down to feeding our kids and replacing our unsafe bridges, who will defend the $300,000 to the Chamber versus feeding kids and replacing dangerous bridges?

I know Hartzler and Blunt won’t support asking Rex Sinquefield for a penny to support that fungible federal money.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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