Your Opinion: Misleading ads favor tax cut
Sunday, September 8, 2013
The so-called Grow Missouri advertisements are misleading to the point of being untruthful. First, there is no budget surplus, just a multitude of under-funded services and people.
Missouri’s state employees are the lowest paid in the nation, and the hundreds of positions that were cut in recent years, supposedly due to the recession, have dramatically reduced services. The Department of Mental Health lost many positions and despite the best efforts of the “survivors,” cannot do all that it used to do. Calling the Department of Revenue yields a recording noting that one is caller 50!
A similar situation exists throughout all state agencies. Occasionally, we hear of problems in day-care facilities and subsequently learn that there are only a handful of people to do very sporadic inspections. The ads decry Missouri’s position in economic development but neglect to mention that state support for public schools ranks very near the bottom of the 50 states.
Indeed, the foundation formula guiding payments to schools is under-funded by many millions of dollars. Why isn’t any purported surplus used to restore support to these agencies or to build roads, bridges, and schools? Claiming a budget surplus when essential government services have shriveled is like a citizen paying only half of his bills and then crowing about how much money he has left!
The ads claim that every Missouri family will save money with this radical tax cut. The truth is, like the Bush tax cuts several years ago, ordinary citizens will get pennies ($6?) while wealthy people cash in. Even those tiny savings will be eaten up by increases in sales taxes, which affect poor and middle-class families disproportionately. Also, just as during the recession, public schools will have to seek levy increases to replace insufficient state support, meaning that citizens will pay higher property taxes or watch their children’s schools decline.
The ads yammer about government waste — a mindless mantra — but don’t mention that good schools, roads, and human services are part of what makes a state attractive to business. Perhaps the biggest area of waste in government is a legislature that endured no cuts during the recession and annually passes destructive legislation.
Still, I hope that there are enough sensible legislators to uphold the veto of this shamefully greedy bill. Failing to do so will make Missouri’s recession permanent.