To the editor:
This past week the Missouri General Assembly began its 2014 session with three major issues on the table:
• Medicaid expansion: Gov. Jay Nixon has said this should be a top priority. He is right. Last year this issue never even made it out of the House because of the inattention of certain key legislators. Meanwhile 300,000 of Missouri’s poorest families are still without access to health insurance.
In this day and age, this should never have happened. Elected representatives have a moral obligation to look after the poorest of our state and see that they, above everyone else, are taken care of and, in this case, providing health insurance to all adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Full Medicaid expansion will save lives. Studies show that people live sicker and die younger when they are uninsured. It is imperative that our poorest citizens are provided access to decent health care.
• The school transfer law: Because of the Kansas City public schools not meeting accreditation standards, students can transfer to accredited school districts in the same county or another county. At least two bills would change the current law. In general, the bills would cap class sizes and establish certain teacher/student ratios in accredited districts. This would, essentially, keep the adjoining school districts from being overwhelmed by a sudden influx of students. The guts of this will play upon those legislators who favor teachers and education versus those who side with school reforms. Let’s hope our legislators get it right for the benefit of all our students.
• Cutting income taxes: The culprit here is St. Louis mega-millionaire Rex Singquefield. He and a few of his followers have made it a priority to cut taxes for richest in the state. Missouri cannot afford any further cuts in revenues without crippling education, our infrastructure and, especially, aid to the poorest in our state. Missouri has one of the lowest tax structures in the country, and any further cuts would have devastating effects on our overall economy. Mr. Singquefield has loaded many of our state legislators’ campaign buckets with large amounts of gratuities and has told them to make tax cuts a priority this session. Many more important issues need to be taken care of during this session.
Let’s hope the 2014 legislative session is successful and that the right issues are dealt with in the right way. Last year was a disaster, especially for Medicaid expansion and a few other issues. Maybe an election year will have some impact on what happens positively going forward. We can only hope.