Last week you probably heard about the terminally ill woman in Oregon who ended her own life:
Brittany Maynard, who became the public face of the controversial right-to-die movement over the last few weeks, ended her own life Saturday at her home in Portland, Oregon. She was 29. (People)
Once diagnosed she moved from California to Oregon to be able to end her life on her terms.
On October 27, 1997 Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity Act which allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act requires the Oregon Health Authority to collect information about the patients and physicians who participate in the Act, and publish an annual statistical report. (Oregon Public Health Dept)
Her death has sparked a new debate about the right for terminal patients to end their lives. The poll question for this week asks if Missouri should have a similar law to allow those who are terminally ill to end their own lives on their terms? The poll is in the right sidebar on the desktop view.
The television commercials before the August primaries were constant; especially Steve Stenger vs Charlie Dooley and Bruce Rauner attacking Pat Quinn, rather than his primary opponents. I’d hoped for a little relief between the primary and the general election, three weeks from today. It seems like right after the primary ended the election commercials continued, except for St. Louis County Executive, those only picked up again recently.
Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of Enyart and Bost. And one of the worst-kept secrets in national politics is that when those committees get involved in a contest, the messaging becomes largely indistinguishable from other hotly contested races throughout the country. (St. Louis Public Radio)
It’s clear from both sides that Bost is a Tea Party conservative, the type that shut down the federal government a year ago:
In a truly misguided display of chutzpah, some members of the Tea Party are congratulating themselves over a supposed “historic victory” in the government shutdown debacle. Yet the shutdown gang led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas extracted no concessions and instead hurt the GOP’s nationwide reputation and shaved GDP growth. (Forbes)
Bost wouldn’t change Congress at all, he’d have no impact on spending other than adding to it by refusing to extend the debt limit. Vote Enyart!
Republican Bruce Rauner falsely claims in a TV ad that Illinois leads the Midwest in “job losses” under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. In fact, Illinois has experienced job growth — albeit small — since Quinn took office. (FactCheck.org)
Rauner’s big push is taxes — cuts for billionaires like himself. You think Illinois has fiscal problems now, it’d be far worse if Rauner got his way:
Once again we are testing the question: Can tax cuts pay for themselves? The answer– yet again– is a resounding no.
We’ve tried this experiment time and again. And tax cut proponents such as economist Art Laffer continue to insist they can turn fiscal dross to gold: Cut taxes deeply enough and the resultant boom in economic activity will boost revenues. Magic. Painless. Everything a politician would ever want.
Except this is fiscal snake oil. Over the past few years, Brownback and the Kansas legislature have gone all-in on this theory. The good news: They have left little room for ambiguity (though Brownback and his defenders are scrambling to find some, given the dismal results of their ambitious experiment). (Forbes)
Kansas suffered by far the largest decline in overall year-over-year receipts — a fall of 21.9 percent. The U.S. average drop was only 1.7 percent.
The institute said Kansas’ decline was “mostly attributable to legislated tax changes.” The state had a stunning 42.9 percent reduction in individual income tax revenue in the April-June period compared with a year earlier. The national decline was just 7.1 percent. (Kansas City Star)
Please don’t vote for Rauner!
St. Louis County
The August 9th shooting of Michael Brown, just four days after the primary, is affecting the general election for St. Louis County Executive:
The schism among St. Louis County Democrats split wide open Wednesday with the endorsement of the Republican nominee for county executive — Rick Stream — by a coalition of black officials angered over what they characterized as “years and years of disrespect” by party leaders. (Post-Dispatch)
For those unfamiliar, Democratic nominee Steve Stenger is close with Prosecutor Robert McCullough, whom many think should’ve recused himself in the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson case.
I personally don’t care for Stenger or Stream. The race includes Libertarian Theo (Ted) Brown, Sr and Constitution party candidate Joe Passanise.
Missouri voters also have to decide on some constitutional amendments, I’ll post on those before the election.
When Missouri last increased the state fuel tax, in 1996, from 15-cents to 17-cents, the US average total price of a gallon of gasoline was roughly $1.084. The oldest records I could find for Missouri go back to 2003, but our are always less than the national average.
Assuming $1.07 per gallon in 1996, the 17-cent Missouri tax represents 15.89% of the price paid at the pump. In July 2008 Missouri gas prices peaked at $3.96, the state fuel tax representing only 4.29% of the total price paid. Recently Missouri’s average was $3.28/gallon, the fuel tax representing 5.18% of the total price per gallon.
How much would gas cost today if Missouri’s fuel tax was 15.89% of the total? To answer this we must do a series of calculations:
$3.28 – $0.17 = $3.11 (cost before Missouri tax)
1 – 0.1589 = .8411 (cost before Missouri tax = 84.11 % of total)
$3.11 / 0.8411 = $3.6975 or $3.70 (current cost if Missouri tax is 15.89% of total)
$3.70 – $3.11 = $0.59 (Missouri gas tax if 15.89% of total)
So there you have it, a gallon would cost $3.70 and the Missouri tax would be 59-cents. At 17-cents we’re only collecting 28.8% of the funding we did in 1996, relative to the total cost of a gallon of gas. To get to 59-cents we’d need to raise the tax 42-cents, or 347%! I’m not advocating we raise the state fuel tax this much, doing so would make ours the highest in the country. The purpose of this exercise is to show that relative to 1996 our revenue is about a third of what it was the last time our fuel tax was increased. A third!
In 1996 the average fuel economy of a new car was 28.5 mpg. Driven 15,000 miles per year the driver would buy 526.3 gallons of gas for a total cost, ignoring fluctuations in price, of $568.40. Of this, Missouri would’ve received $89.47. The average fuel economy for a 2013 model car is 36 mpg, a substantial improvement. Driven 15,000 miles per year the driver would buy 416.7 gallons of gas for a total cost, ignoring fluctuations in price, of $1,366.78. Of this, Missouri would’ve received $70.84. Eighteen years later the driver spends 140% more on fuel, but Missouri receives less. Of course, with inflation the cost to maintain roads & bridges is higher nearly two decades later.
As I’ve said previously, if we’d continue to raise the fuel tax 2-cents ever two years, like we did 1992-1996, we’d now be at 34-cents. Our bridges & roads would’ve been funded and maintained all along.
If our state tax was suddenly doubled from 17-cents to 34-cents the total price of a gallon would be $3.45, instead of the current $3.28. The 34-cent tax would be 9.855% of the total cost of a gallon. Not as much as in 1996, but much better than today. Diesel fuel taxes need to be raised in a similar manner.
In the same example as above the driver of the 2013 car would still need 416.7 gallons, but now the total cost would be $1,437.62. Missouri would receive $141.68 from this motorist to maintain the bridges & highways.
The question now is how quickly can/should we raise the fuel taxes?
A decade ago Missouri voters amended our state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, but the majority of voters in the City of St. Louis voted no. As is often the case, city voters differed from state voters. I’ve not looked at previous elections, but this year voters in St. Louis County voted against the same four amendments. Two amendments city & county voters rejected, Amendments 1 & 5, were approved by statewide voters.
I couldn’t locate statewide information on the number of ballots cast from each party, most likely greater than half were Republican.
The amendment that received the most votes was #7, a 3/4-cent sales tax for roads.
Transportation officials have been working for more than a decade to find more money. In 2002, voters defeated a proposed $483 million sales and fuel tax increase.
“There is no perfect solution,” said Kehoe, the sponsor. He said Amendment 7 was crafted around polling that showed a sales tax was most likely to pass at the polls. He said the fuel tax would have to be raised 20 to 25 cents per gallon to generate the money needed. (stltoday)
In July, the start of fiscal year 2009, Amendment 3 is fully phased-in, providing MoDOT with all of the motor vehicle sales tax revenues previously going to General Revenue.
MoDOT sold bonds for a portion of the new Interstate 64, a design-build project in the St. Louis region. For the first time, MoDOT secured bonds primarily with federal funds, rather than state funds. These bonds are called Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds.
2004 In November, Missouri voters approved Constitutional Amendment 3, which requires all revenues collected from the sale of motor vehicles come to MoDOT. Previously, half of the sales tax went to MoDOT and half to the state’s general revenue fund. It requires the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to issue bonds for building highway and bridge projects and uses these additional revenues to pay back the bonds over a period of time. The additional Amendment 3 revenues are to be phased-in over a 4 year period in 25 percent increments.
2002 Legislation is passed extending the 6-cents-per-gallon motor-fuel tax, which was due to expire in 2008. Proposition B, an omnibus transportation bill that would have increased the motor-fuel tax by 4 cents per gallon and the general sales tax by 1/2 percent, is defeated by voters by a 3-to-1 margin.
2000 Legislation was passed, effective May 30, 2000, allowing MoDOT to issue $2.25 billion in bond financing to accelerate highway improvements. Up to $250 million in bonds can be issued in 2000 and up to $2 billion from 2001 through 2006. Projects funded by the first $250 million were required to come from MoDOT’s 5-Year Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. MoDOT can issue up to $500 million per year in bond financing through the year 2006. MoDOT submits a bond financing project list to the Legislature each January for approval.
1992 A 6-cent per gallon increase in the motor fuel tax is passed by the Legislature. The 6 cents is to be phased in over a 5-year period; 2 cents in 1992, 2 cents in 1994 and 2 cents in 1996.
1987 Proposition A, a constitutional amendment to increase the motor fuel tax by 4 cents per gallon, is approved by the people. It becomes effective June 1.
1984 Fees for motor vehicles and truck classes not raised in 1983 are increased.
1983 Fees for some classes of trucks are increased.
1982 Proposition B, a constitutional amendment to raise the motor fuel tax by 4 cents per gallon, is defeated by the people.
1979 Voters approve a constitutional amendment changing the CART distribution formula. Counties receive 10 instead of 5 percent, cities receive the same 15 percent and the state receives 75 instead of 80 percent. The law is effective Jan. 1, 1980. The amendment also merges the Highway Department with the Transportation Department. Also included in this legislation is a provision that one-half of the motor vehicle sales tax go to finance road and bridge construction. Of this half, 74 percent would go to the state, 15 percent to the cities and 10 percent to the counties. The remaining 1 percent goes for planning of other transportation modes.
1978 An initiative petition to increase the fuel tax 3 cents per gallon is defeated.
1972 The Legislature passes a bill increasing the gas tax from 5 cents to 7 cents per gallon.
1961 The Legislature passes a bill temporarily raising the fuel tax from 3 cents to 5 cents per gallon. The bill provides that a constitutional amendment be put before the people which would allow cities and counties to share in state motor fuel tax revenues. If the amendment is not submitted within six months, or if it is rejected, the tax would revert to 3 cents. Voters approve the amendment on March 6, 1962, and the 5-cent per gallon tax becomes permanent. This act establishes the County Aid Road Trust program.
1952 On March 24, an act is approved increasing the motor vehicle tax from 2 cents to 3 cents per gallon. The law becomes effective July 29.
1950 On April 4, Missourians again reject a referendum proposal to increase the motor vehicle tax. The proposal would have increased the tax from 2 cents to 4 cents per gallon.
1938 On Nov. 8, the people defeat by referendum election an attempt of the Legislature to raise the fuel tax from 2 cents to 3 cents per gallon. At the same time, an initiative petition proposal to amend the Constitution to fix the fuel tax at 3 cents for 10 years is also defeated.
1924 A 2-cent tax rate for motor vehicle fuel is adopted by a vote of the people under initiative petition. It is the state’s first motor fuel tax.
From the above I made this list of the fuel tax rate since 1924:
1952 3-cents (28 years, 100% increase)
1961: 5-cents (9 years, 66% increase)
1972: 7-cents (11 years, 40% increase)
1987: 11-cents (15 years, 57% increase)
1992: 13-cents (5 years, 18.18% increase)
1994: 15-cents (2 years, 15.38% increase)
1996: 17-cents (2 years, 13.33% increase)
It has now been 18+ years since the fuel tax was increased, the only period longer was the first increase after the initial tax! Had the 1990s 2-cent increase every two years continued we’d be at 34-cents — double the current rate. We’d still be lower than Illinois and many other states. Amendment 7 proponents say voters rejected a 2002 attempt to raise the fuel tax rate. From above: “Proposition B, an omnibus transportation bill that would have increased the motor-fuel tax by 4 cents per gallon and the general sales tax by 1/2 percent, is defeated by voters by a 3-to-1 margin.” They’d proposed a measly 4-cent fuel tax increase combined with a 1/2-cent general sales tax. I don’t recall how I voted a dozen years ago, but I likely voted no based on the general sales tax increase.
Here’s what should happen:
The Missouri legislature should pass legislation to double the fuel tax from 17-cents to 34-cents over the next 5-10 years.
The Missouri legislature should pass legislation make I-70 a toll road between Kanas City and St. Louis. This revenue, not the fuel tax, would be used to widen I-70.
We do need to maintain our infrastructure, we should be cautious about adding to the system if we aren’t willing to raise the fuel tax. Why build more miles of highway if we can’t maintain what we have now?
Tuesday August 5th Missouri voters will go to the polls for the primary election, which includes five proposed constitutional amendments. The poll last week included a question about each. The results below aren’t scientific and outstate voters frequently vote the opposite of voters from urbanized areas.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 1 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (First Regular Session) CCS No. 2 SS HCS HJR Nos. 11 & 7
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed? The potential costs or savings to governmental entities are unknown, but likely limited unless the resolution leads to increased litigation costs and/or the loss of federal funding.
No – Against the amendment 186 [71.81%]
Yes – For the amendment 55 [21.24%]
Undecided 15 [5.79%]
N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 3 [1.16%]
“Amendment 1 is a concerted effort to shield factory farms and concentrated agricultural feeding operations from regulations to protect livestock, consumers and the environment.” — KC Star editorial
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 5 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SCS SJR No. 36
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is an unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right? State and local governmental entities should have no direct costs or savings from this proposal. However, the proposal’s passage will likely lead to increased litigation and criminal justice related costs. The total potential costs are unknown, but could be significant.
No – Against the amendment 172 [68.25%]
Yes – For the amendment 75 [29.76%]
Undecided 3 [1.19%]
N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 2 [0.79%]
An attempt to prevent local laws on firearms
“Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce strongly urge a NO vote because gun rights will take preference, particularly in domestic violence cases.” — State Rep Stacey Newman
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 7 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SS HJR No. 68
Should the Missouri Constitution be changed to enact a temporary sales tax of three-quarters of one percent to be used solely to fund state and local highways, roads, bridges and transportation projects for ten years, with priority given to repairing unsafe roads and bridges? This change is expected to produce $480 million annually to the state’s Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund and $54 million for local governments. Increases in the gas tax will be prohibited. This revenue shall only be used for transportation purposes and cannot be diverted for other uses.
No – Against the amendment 190 [72.52%]
Yes – For the amendment 58 [22.14%]
Undecided 11 [4.2%]
N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 3 [1.15%]
The trucking industry trying to avoid paying to use Missouri’s roads, especially I-70 & I-44.
I love taxation to pay for government services, but only if it is fair.
We do need to repair roads & bridges, fund transit projects throughout Missouri, but this is the wrong way to do it.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 8 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) HJR No. 48
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to create a “Veterans Lottery Ticket” and to use the revenue from the sale of these tickets for projects and services related to veterans? The annual costs or savings to state and local governmental entities is unknown, but likely minimal. If sales of a veterans lottery ticket game decrease existing lottery ticket sales, the profits of which fund education, there could be a small annual shift in funding from education to veterans’ programs.
No – Against the amendment 160 [65.57%]
Yes – For the amendment 47 [19.26%]
Undecided 33 [13.52%]
N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 4 [1.64%]
The lottery was approved to provide a funding source, any dollar going to another worthy cause isn’t going to education. This won’t increase Lottery revenues, just divide the pot.
We need to do more for veterans, this isn’t the right way to do it.
Please vote NO!
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 9 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SCS SJR No. 27
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects? State and local governmental entities expect no significant costs or savings.
Yes – For the amendment 177 [72.84%]
No – Against the amendment 47 [19.34%]
Undecided 17 [7%]
N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 2 [0.82%]
Last month the hubby and I decided to go town to Sainte Genevive, Missouri. I’d been once or twice twenty plus years ago, he’d never been. The fastest way there is I-55 south, but we took the long way heading south from downtown St. Louis on Jefferson Ave until it merges with South Broadway into St. Louis County. On highway 231 we passed Jefferson Barrack’s Cemetery, which we’ve seen before including a memorial service a few weeks earlier. We were close to two parks we visited last year, Cliff Cave Park and Bee Tree Park.
We got to the end of 231, turning left (south) onto state highway 61/67. Very soon Siri is telling us to turn left for Kimswick, MO. Charming, we made a note to return for lunch or dinner sometime. We continue passing through Barnhart, Pevely, Herculaneum, Festus/Crystal City, happened on a charming old roadside park, before finally arriving in Sainte Genevive. The backroad journey took at least twice as long as the interstate, but it’s so much more interesting!
More after the pics…
Most of the Ste Genevive wineries are a long drive from the historic town, next time we’ll take I-55 so we have more time to explore, possibly staying overnight in one of the many choices for accommodations.
We’d decided to cross the Mississippi River and return to St. Louis via Illinois, but first we stopped in St. Mary where I fell in love with the house shown above. We crossed the river into Chester, IL and came north on Route 3 without stopping. Very different terrain 0n the Illinois side. I love seeing these historic towns on a map, a nice grid of streets.
Last week more than two-thirds of the readers supported the decision by St. Louis officials to issue marriage licenses to four same-sex couples in an effort to challenge Missouri’s ban. While I’d like my own same-sex marriage recognized by Missouri, beyond a joint tax return, I voted for “somewhat support.” Before I explain why, here are the results:
Q: On June 25th the City of St. Louis defied Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage by marrying 4 couples. Oppose or support this decision?
Strongly support 92 [69.7%]
Strongly oppose 21 [15.91%]
Somewhat support 8 [6.06%]
Somewhat oppose 6 [4.55%]
Neutral 4 [3.03%]
Unsure/No Answer 1 [0.76%]
As I stated when I introduced this poll, this action was being discussed quietly last year. At that time Missouri’s ban wasn’t being challenged in the courts, but in February this year:
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit in state court today on behalf of eight same-sex couples who are seeking recognition for their legal out-of-state marriages. The lawsuit does not seek a repeal of Missouri’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples within the state. (ACLU)
That case wasn’t a direct challenge to the ban, that came in June a day before the weddings at city hall:
Court records show the Jackson County case was filed Tuesday.
ACLU attorney Tony Rothert said Friday that it wasn’t publicized because supporters didn’t want to distract from efforts in St. Louis.
St. Louis officials granted marriage licenses to four same-sex couples Wednesday, which also has prompted a legal fight. (KSDK)
In this case two same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses are challenging the ban, a legal strategy successfully used in other states. Maybe both challenges will be stronger than just the one, it certainly got positive press for St. Louis. It also seems like a way to help Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter in her August 5th primary, not a worthwhile reason for getting St. Louis sued by Missouri Attorney General:
Cases currently pending in Jefferson City and Kansas City regarding the constitutionality of Missouri’s ban against same-sex marriage will be decided in the coming months. Regardless of my personal support for marriage equality, such vital questions cannot be decided by local county officials acting in contravention of state law.
St. Louis is arguing county recorder of deeds are free to act based on their understanding of the constitution. I can’t help but wonder if conservative Brian Nieves would issue same-sex marriage licenses if he becomes the Franklin County recorder of deeds and our ban is ruled unconstitutional? Missouri has 115 recorder of deeds, do we want them each interpreting the constitution? Their job is to record and file documents.
Thursday morning I decided the poll I had planned to run this week will have to wait until next week. Late Wednesday St. Louis officials married four same-sex couples despite Missouri’s 2004 constitutional ban.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster sued the city of St. Louis on Thursday morning, seeking and getting an injunction to stop the city from issuing more same-sex marriage licenses. (stltoday)
Over the last 10+ years public opinion on same-sex marriage has shifted from majority opposed to majority support. It’s no longer if, but when. Last week’s unscientific poll looked at the timing:
Q: When do you think Same-Sex Marriage will be recognized in all 50 states?
2019-2024: 30 [26.55%]
2016: 18 [15.93%]
2025 or later: 17 [15.04%]
Never: 17 [15.04%]
2017: 12 [10.62%]
2015: 10 [8.85%]
2018: 7 [6.19%]
2014: 2 [1.77%]
There’s no right or wrong here, we’re all just placing bets. However, the 15% who picked “never” will be in for a shock when the SCOTUS issues a ruling, making same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states.
The Supreme Court’s term runs from October to June. With the high likelihood that at least one circuit will decide against state limits by summer or fall, observers say, the Supreme Court should have ample time to hear a case for a decision by June 2015, though unexpected delays could push it to 2016 at the latest. (NY Times)
On June 12, 1967 the SCOTUS ruled on Loving v. Virginia, “ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.” The same will happen for same-sex marriage, though not unanimous as was Loving v. Virginia. My prediction is the SCOTUS will decide the issue in June 2016.
In May 2004 the first same-sex marriages in the United States began in Massachusetts, the result of a court ruling. That year many states, including Missouri, passed constitutional bans against recognizing same-sex marriages. Other states approved same-sex marriage.
A year ago the Supreme Court determined part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. Since then states like Illinois & Hawaii has approved same-sex marriage through their legislatures while courts have found more than a dozen state bans are unconstitutional, including Wisconsin on Friday.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the ban, making Wisconsin the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry under law or where a judge has ruled they ought to be allowed to wed.
Every remaining state ban is now challenged in court.
Same-sex marriages in Illinois were to begin on June 1st but a court ruled in February there was no reason to wait. Some counties like Cook (Chicago) and St. Clair County have been issuing licenses since then. However, St. Clair County wasn’t issuing licenses to out of state couples that live in states with a ban. But on Wednesday of last week St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly determined they could issue licenses to couples from Missouri and other states, as Cook County had been doing.
The poll question this week asks when you think same-sex marriage will be recognized in all 50 states. The poll is in the right sidebar.
It's unconscionable that we are allowing our infrastructure to crumble while we shower multinational corporations and international banks with tax cuts and loopholes they do not need, nor deserve.
Thanks to CJ Kalish.