Our Opinion: Senate repeats message already heard

News Tribune editorial

Pettiness is unbecoming.

And when pettiness takes the form of sending a message, it also may compound the problem.

Senators on Monday were scheduled to debate a $25 billion state budget containing a purposed conspicuous omission. As advanced to the full chamber by the Senate Appropriations Committee, the budget proposal eliminates all funding for the motor vehicle and driver’s license division of the state Revenue Department.

The goose egg signals legislative displeasure with the Revenue agency’s sharing of concealed carry permits — obtained as part of the driver’s license procedure — with federal authorities.

The sharing is prohibited under a state directive that rejects compliance with provisions of the federal Real ID measure.

And, as we noted in this forum on Friday, lawmakers have been thwarted in their efforts to unscramble the puzzle. We likened the confusion and evasion to the classic Abbott and Costello routine — “Who’s on first?”

Unlike the comedy routine, however, members of the Senate appropriations panel apparently found nothing funny about the Revenue division’s procedures or explanations.

Lawmakers possess power. On budget matters, they possess tremendous power.

When they are frustrated or obstructed, they routinely make their disapproval known through fiscal retaliation.

That disapproval, however, already is widely known.

The Revenue agency was directed last week by Gov. Jay Nixon to stop making copies of concealed weapons permits. It also will delete all previously scanned permit information from state computers.

In addition, the controversy prompted the resignation of Revenue Director Brian Long.

Let’s be realistic. Eliminating all funding for motor vehicle and driver’s license operations would create a massive inconvenience for many Missourians.

It is not going to happen.

The zero amount in any Senate-passed version likely will be restored in the conference committee with the House, since the House-passed version of the budget included funding for the division.

But why waste additional time?

Nothing more will be gained by repeating a message already heard loudly and clearly.

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