Your Opinion: Legislative actions indicate priorities

Dear Editor:

There were two interesting articles in the April 24 News Tribune revealing the priorities of our legislators.

They have clearly determined that their feud with the Department of Revenue regarding conceal and carry permits is a key driver. But guns are not the primary focus of this submission. Guns are just the issue around which this commentary revolves.

In pressing their feud with Revenue, they attempted to defund driver’s license administration. Appropriations Chair Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, was informed that in attempting to do so they inadvertently defunded title and registration administration for boats, ATVs and manufactured homes.

When informed, Sen. Schaefer said, “That’s news to me, and that is not how they have ever explained the budget to us.”

This senator is leadership in Missouri’s Senate, receiving one of the committee plums in appropriations. Has Sen. Schaefer never worked on a budget before? This whole escapade demonstrates the incompetence of Republican legislative leadership in Missouri. That they would be willing to shut down the ability of Missourians to obtain driver’s licenses is incredible. To add this callousness to an inability to actually legislate their intent is amazing.

The second article addressed the offer by Missouri’s sheriffs to provide the conceal and carry permits at issue. They only asked that the state help with funding.

Miraculously, the Missouri Senate rapidly found the $2 million required to meet the needed financial assistance of the sheriffs to keep CC licensing out of prying eyes, all while our education system continues to languish from insufficient funding. Two points must be made.

First, since we are paying for duplicative services to protect conceal and carry privacy and since many of the most popular weapons retail at $500-$1,500, indicating money is not the issue, let the applicant fees address local funding needs.

Secondly, in 2010 alone, Missouri lost 2,500 teachers to funding stresses. This $2 million will not fill all those positions but adding rather than subtracting clearly makes more sense.

The Missouri Budget Project in 2012 stated, “As a percent of state to local district funding, Missouri is one of the lowest spenders nationally, ranking 47th lowest.”

As we chase the bottom in this ranking, all the tax incentives available will not compensate for an undereducated citizenry. As I said at the beginning, this is about priorities. Clearly some interest groups can demand complete attention and that group is not our kids or our economic future.

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