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Your Opinion: Does Missouri have a "surplus' of money?

Your Opinion: Does Missouri have a "surplus' of money?

August 4th, 2013 by Warren Solomon, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

A few days ago I received a postcard from "Save Missouri Jobs," which claimed, "For the first time in years Missouri's economy is improving and has generated a surplus for the state. As a result, Republicans and Democrats joined forces to reduce taxes instead of increase government spending."

The postcard authors then asserted that Missouri lawmakers now have "one chance in September to give final approval of House Bill 253 and lower income taxes for the first time in nearly 100 years!"

They followed, however, with this warning: "A small group of politicians and lobbyists are trying to prevent this money from going back into the pockets of all Missourians."

They conclude requesting that we should contact our state representative today to advocate for the bill.

How much should we believe what the Save Missouri Jobs postcard said?

Does Missouri really have a surplus? Maybe the state will receive more revenue than was expected; yet the state's school foundation formula remains underfunded, the state's support of higher education has been weak, resulting in rising tuitions, and we were told that the state will have insufficient funds in the future to expand Medicaid, which will jeopardize the health and lives of many Missourians. Hence, we must ask, "What surplus?"

In addition, the claim in the postcard that a small group of politicians and lobbyists are standing in the way of the passage of HB253 is misleading. For one thing, those who voted for the bill are politicians, and many of those now spending big bucks to promote the bill are lobbyists. Second, not a few - but around 50 groups - are publicly opposed to the bill. These include: AARP Missouri, Missouri Budget Project, Missouri Association of Social Welfare, Civic Council of Kansas City, Missouri Municipal League, Missouri Hospital Association, Missouri League of Women Voters, Missouri Parent Teachers Association, Missouri School Board Association, and Missouri State Council of Firefighters.

These groups comprehend that HB253, by reducing income taxes in our low-tax state, will prevent our state from adequately funding many programs which Missourians need, including programs necessary for people's health and well-being and programs needed in public education, thereby jeopardizing this state's future economic growth and competitiveness.

What should we do? Should we do as Save Missouri Jobs asks? Speaking for myself, I will instead contact my representative and ask him to support the governor's veto of HB253.