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Opinion: Missouri Should Reject ‘Right to Work’

January 18, 2017 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: Missouri Should Reject ‘Right to Work’
Labor Day Parade in downtown St. Louis, 2009
Labor Day Parade in downtown St. Louis, 2009

Even though my parents were both blue collar workers they both were anti-union. In 1979 General Motors opened a new plant in Oklahoma City to build the new X-Body cars (Chevy Citation). Briefly my father considered trying to get a job there, but he didn’t want to be forced to join a union.

Then why did he even consider applying?  Simple: union wages, hours, benefits, etc. My dad remained a self-employed carpenter the rest of his life. Growing up in their house I too was anti-union but moving to St. Louis at age 23 allowed me to learn about the history & importance of organized labor…including the long-standing resistance from some business interests.

I do think ‘right to work’ could bring more jobs to Missouri — more low-paying jobs.

One scene from an old episode of Roseanne sums up the issue:

We will see action on the subject quickly.

According to St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jo Mannies, the question is not if ‘right to work’ will become a reality in Missouri but how quickly and how big?

Missouri’s General Assembly will convene in early January, and Mannies said this issue is probably one of the first they’ll take up as a “show of strength” and “to unify the Republican base and bring Greitens into the fold.” Mannies expects that right-to-work will be a decided reality in Missouri by early February 2017.

“The only question is how expansive it will be,” Mannies said. “In some states, police and fire are exempted because Republicans have always been trying to reach out to police and fire groups and they don’t want to tick them off. Some of the bills that are introduced may be blanket, including every union or association. Other bills might just do private sector. Some may do everything but police and fire. Some may be police, fire and teachers.” [St. Louis Public Radio]

Good question, will this apple to every union or will some be exempted? My guess is more conservative-leaning unions like police unions will be exempted.

Based on the non-scientific Sunday Poll, I’m preaching to the choir:

Q: Agree or disagree: A right-to-work law will bring more jobs & higher wages to Missouri.

  • Strongly agree 5 [9.09%]
  • Agree 2 [3.64%]
  • Somewhat agree 1 [1.82%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [3.64%]
  • Somewhat disagree 0 [0%]
  • Disagree 14 [25.45%]
  • Strongly disagree 29 [52.73%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [3.64%]

Missouri is about to get very red.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Is ‘Right-To-Work’ Right For Missouri?

January 15, 2017 Missouri, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Is ‘Right-To-Work’ Right For Missouri?
Please vote below
Please vote below

Eric Greitens was sworn in as Missouri’s governor on Monday. One of his campaign promises is a top priority for the legislature.

When Greitens takes office, Monday, Republicans for the first time in history will hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature and control of the governor’s mansion. That likely will mean top GOP priorities vetoed by Nixon will become law, including a right-to-work bill barring mandatory union fees that Greitens said he supports. (KMOX)

Right-to-work is the subject of today’s poll.

The poll will close at 8pm — earlier if there’s evidence of a campaign to significantly alter the non-scientific results. Results and my thoughts on Wednesday.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Missouri Needs To Increase Fuel Taxes, Index For Future Adjustments

January 11, 2017 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Taxes Comments Off on Opinion: Missouri Needs To Increase Fuel Taxes, Index For Future Adjustments
Missouri Capital, Jefferson City, MO, April 2011
Missouri Capital, Jefferson City, MO, April 2011

The last time Missouri’s fuel tax rate increased was 1996 — from a 1993 law that increased it a little for 3 years. Meanwhile, Missouri has built more miles of infrastructure to maintain and maintenance/construction costs have increased. There are many ways to raise money for roads & bridges but the most direct is fuel taxes.

Our legislators in Jefferson City need to address this issue — but I don’t see it happening. Even if they managed to pass a small increase our new governor would likely veto it.

The results of the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Missouri should index fuel taxes so they automatically adjust up or down.

  • Strongly agree 11 [40.74%]
  • Agree 8 [29.63%]
  • Somewhat agree 4 [14.81%]
  • Neither agree or disagreeii 1 [3.7%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [7.41%]
  • Disagree 0 [0%]
  • Strongly disagree 1 [3.7%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

In addition to increasing the fuel tax, there needs to be an index to automatically adjust it going forward. Not exactly sure the basis for the indexing, but we can’t go decades without a change since deterioration & increased costs never stop.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Index Fuel Taxes?

January 8, 2017 Featured, Missouri, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Index Fuel Taxes?
Please vote below
Please vote below

The new year brought changes to fuel tax rates in many states:

Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana and Florida will each see modest gas tax increases of less than a penny per gallon, based on automatic adjustments in those states, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Two states — New York and West Virginia — will have slight reductions based on automatic adjustments, according to the institute. The Empire State’s rate will fall 0.8 cents per gallon, and the Mountain State’s rate will drop 1 cent per gallon.

The hikes reflect state efforts to balance budgets for road construction and maintenance when Congress hasn’t raised the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. State transportation officials and the construction industry contend federal funding hasn’t kept pace with inflation and more fuel-efficient cars. (USA Today)

Missouri’s fuel taxes, however, remain unchanged since 1996. Numerous attempts over the lsat two decades to raise fuel taxes have failed.

From May 2016:

The state legislature did not pass a transportation funding fix during the regular legislative session that ended Friday. One measure that passed in the Senate but died in the House would have asked voters if Missouri’s gas tax should be increased 5.9 cents per gallon to help pay for roads and bridges.

Senator Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) says he worked hard to find a compromise this year in hopes that the proposal would pass.

“The people of the state of Missouri will not be able to vote on whether or not they would like to pay a little more to get better roads and bridges to drive on,” said Libla.

Lawmakers agree transportation funding must increase but they disagree on how to fund it. (MissouriNet)

It seems like some states use indexing to adjust fuel taxes, is this something Missouri should consider?

This poll closes at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

Taxpayers Need To Pay To Rebuild Dead Highway Site, Not Stadium

December 26, 2016 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Taxpayers Need To Pay To Rebuild Dead Highway Site, Not Stadium

Like governor-elect Greitens, I’m opposed to tax supported stadiums for millionaire team owners. However, I also recognize there are places where strictly private funding can’t get the job done — public money is needed to seed development.

A proposed MLS stadium would be built here, the site of a long-dead planned highway project
A proposed MLS stadium would be built here, the site of a long-dead planned highway project

Decades ago Missouri & St. Louis used taxpayer money to buy and raze a huge area West of Union Station for a planned highway that’s long dead. This vacant hole has been a huge negative, preventing smaller private investment all around from spreading to improve the tax base and employment.

It took taxpayer money to raze the neighborhood that once existed here — it will take taxpayer money to undo the damage. Regardless of what goes here — public money will be needed.

I haven’t reviewed the MLS stadium proposal, but it could potentially spur other development that would, in time, completely fill in this hole, St. Louis & Missouri needs to look at the long-term pros & cons to investing in this area. No doubt the proposal is heavily tilted in favor of the would-be team owners, that’s why it needs to be scrutinized and revised. But outright rejection is saying this huge dead hole is ok as is for another 2-3 decades.

— Steve Patterson

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