Perspective: Support for transportation funds, tax cut not inconsistent

I love Easter and I love the week leading up to it, beginning with Palm Sunday. With each passing year I am hopeful that I give more and better contemplation to the real meaning of this Holy Week. Jesus entered Jerusalem to the applause and adulation of the crowds, yet within a week He would be crucified at the demand of much of that same crowd.

Understanding and appreciating all that He went through and sacrificed for mankind is a humbling thing, and makes for celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday much more fulfilling. The darkness of his crucifixion on Good Friday is overwhelmed by the light of Sunday morning as we proclaim, “He’s Alive!” for all to hear. My family and I wish you all a safe and happy Easter. May it be filled with good food and good fellowship as we celebrate Jesus’s life, death and resurrection.

This week, I was disappointed to see the governor accuse the Legislature of acting irresponsibly and recklessly by sending a tax cut bill to his desk while simultaneously advancing HJR68 and SJR48 which will allow Missourians to vote on how they want to invest in transportation infrastructure in Missouri. The governor questioned the consistency of the General Assembly for advancing both a tax cut and transportation funding, but I have an entirely different perspective on the matter. Instead of being erratic and obtuse, these two actions are actually congruent once fully explained.

Frankly, the majority of Missourians do not trust the government at either the state or federal level. This level of distrust is not entirely unfounded. On April 15, many Missourians sent their tax dollars in to the government with the assumption the money goes into a big pot used to fund a variety of functions over which they have no control. Instead of handing over their hard-earned dollars to a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians, they rightfully want to keep as much of it as possible.

The tax cut that the House and Senate have passed will return some of that money to them. These tax cuts will not go into effect until at least 2017, which facilitates the governor’s timeline for fully funding the foundation formula as he articulated in his State of the State address. Additionally, beginning in 2017, these cuts will not go into effect unless net general revenue collections in the previous fiscal year exceed previous years’ revenues by at least $150 million. It may make for a sensational sound-bite to suggest that these tax cuts are “an assault on public education in Missouri,” but the claim is simply not true. This tax cut plan will not go into effect until after the time-frame that the governor has committed to fully funding the foundation formula and unless there is growth in revenues collected of more than $150 million annually.

While the tax cut helps control reckless government spending of general revenue dollars, HJR68 and SJR48 encourage targeted, responsible and necessary investment in Missouri’s transportation infrastructure. Advancing a measure that gives Missourians the opportunity to vote to fund transportation does two things. First, it gives the people the right to determine where their money will go instead of allowing the government to decide. Second, it gives citizens a transparent and responsible plan that will fund necessary improvements to the state’s transportation infrastructure, including 10,400 bridges and 32,000 miles of roads, that will make them and their families safer. If passed by the legislature and approved by Missourians in November, the revenues from HJR68 and SJR48 can only be invested in transportation across the state. Politicians will not be able to redirect it for other programs.

Accordingly, these two clearly defined choices are consistent. Government will spend your money less wisely than you will at every available opportunity. The amount of money put into a discretionary black hole should be only enough to meet the requirements of government. Funding that black hole excessively simply ensures it will be wasted. If Missourians understand the perilous state of transportation infrastructure in Missouri, and if they choose to approve a temporary investment in transportation infrastructure, then they will send a very clear message that transportation is a priority and that they want funding dedicated solely for that purpose. I believe you deserve the opportunity make that choice.

On a lighter note, we are approaching the Best Monday of the Year — at least according to my chief of staff. The spring turkey season begins on April 21, and for the next three weeks I will be subjected to his many tales, exaggerations, and sob-stories about close encounters and bad breaks in the woods. I find it interesting that a man whom I frequently refer to as a turkey has such difficulty killing one himself. Regardless, his lamentations are a source of great entertainment and fodder for jokes in the office. To all of you that actually stand a chance of bagging a turkey, I wish you good luck and safe hunting.

My purpose and my intent is to serve the constituents of the 6th Senatorial District. If you are in the Capitol during the coming weeks and months, please stop by your office in Room 220.

State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, represents the 6th District.

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