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MISSOURI LEGISLATORS: SAY NO TO PROPOSITION B
MISSOURI LEGISLATORS: SAY NO TO PROPOSITION B
Nov. 1, 2012
Lawmakers Remain Skeptical Funds Will Go to Education
By Ron Leone
Jefferson City With just days left before the election, Missouri State Legislators are stepping forward to express their opposition to Proposition B and dispute proponents' claims that the taxes collected will be spent on education. The legislators also refute the assertions made by Proposition B supporters that the funds are guaranteed to go where they say they will, a central message of the proponents' campaign.
Key supporters of Proposition B have acknowledged that if the measure were to pass, there are no guarantees the money will go entirely to education and tobacco prevention. In a October 27, 2012 article in the Columbia Daily Tribune, Proposition B advocate, Senator Kurt Schaefer, commented "Certainly, there are no guarantees," when confronted about the possibility of funds collected going to the other budget programs.
Former State Senator and current University of Missouri Curator, Wayne Goode, added "If they get in tight budget situations, the legislature has tough decisions to make and ‹ by necessity, in my opinion ‹ move money around and put it where it needs to be." Despite Proposition B proponents' claims that the money will be protected by state statute, the same article found that "Missouri's Court of Appeals Western District recently ruled twice that lawmakers can use state dollars for whatever they want, regardless of what state statute says."
According to the article:
"Appellate Judge Lisa White Hardwick ruled in 2010 that compliance to statutes dictating where appropriated money goes is "discretionary and not mandatory. In a separate lawsuit last year, appellate Judge Alok Ahuja ruled against an ill couple asking that state lawmakers follow a statute and direct money from the 1998 tobacco settlement into a life sciences research fundŠboth cases affirmed that lawmakers have the constitutional power to spend money how they see fit, regardless of limitations established by state statute. And both times, judges pointed to a 1901 Supreme Court decision that said:
"Let it be freely admitted that one general assembly cannot tie the hands of its successor, and that, although this tax is set apart into a special fund, it still belongs to the state, and may be appropriated to another and different use."
Several current lawmakers, including the Democratic Floor Leader Senator Victor Callahan, are publicly expressing their concerns with Proposition B and informing voters that their tax dollars could be used on programs other than those outlined in the measure, similar to what happened in with the lottery and casino funds.
Below are statements from current Missouri State Legislators opposing Proposition B.
Senator Victor Callahan (D-Independence), Senate Minority Floor Leader:
"Proposition B lacks the necessary safeguards taxpayers deserve to ensure that the money is spent as its intended, that's why I'm urging taxpayers to vote No on Proposition B."
Senator Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield):
"Proposition B is a huge tax increase that won't go where voters think it will go. We all know how the games are played in Jefferson City. Money is promised to voters for one thing and used for another, just like casino and lottery funds that were supposed to go directly to education but did not. Proposition B is no different; there is nothing to prevent those funds from being diverted to other portions of the state budget."
Senator Luann Ridgeway (R-Smithville):
"Proposition B supporters claim this new tax increase will go to education, but I've seen firsthand how that game is played in the Capitol. Taxpayer dollars are constantly diverted to other programs and rarely used for their original intended purpose. Proposition B funds are no different. I have examined it and there are no guarantees or safeguards that education funding will actually be increased. Proposition B also hurts our local communities, which concerns me as a candidate for County Commissioner. Clay County alone could see a loss of over $213,000 in sales tax revenue if this passes which means a cut to core services the county provides like road and bridge repair and public safety."
"Plus this tax increase proposal spells out that our tax dollars will be given to unelected bureaucrats to create more government programs & control of health care delivery -- regardless of the fact that 71% of Missouri voters have already said "NO" to government run healthcare in Missouri. Proposition B should be rejected and sent back to the drawing board until the promises of its supporters are clearly written into the law."
Senator Bill Stouffer (R-Napton):
"I still hear from constituents who are frustrated that gaming funds ‹ casinos and the lottery ‹ do not seem to be an addition to what our schools are receiving from the state. All of these funds were supposed to fund our schools and help solve our education problems. Since then, our largest two school districts have become unaccredited. And now, we are faced with yet another campaign to raise taxes for our schools that could end with a broken promise. Diverting money is a classic way to avoid tough decisions to cut spending. I am concerned that this massive tax increase would ensure wasteful spending will continue, or become even worse, in our state."
"For those who believe the funds will go to a good purpose, I will remind them our challenge is not a lack of budget funds, but how we spend them. The solution is not more revenue raised on the backs of hard-working citizens; it is prioritizing the funds available."
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