OPINION: Be honest about your intentions

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By DOUG BECK
Missouri State Senator
D-1st District
(Member, Plumbers, Pipefitters 562)

Recently, in the Missouri Senate we have made tremendous progress in getting people to be honest about what they are trying to do, who they are trying to help (or hurt), and what are the real implications for taxpayers. In an era of misinformation, I count any moment of honesty as a victory for the people we serve.

Here are two examples:

SCHOOL VOUCHERS
This year, certain lobbyists are making a huge push to expand Missouri’s voucher program to take even more money away from neighborhood public schools (where most kids attend) and to give it to private schools through a voucher scheme.

Obviously, this is unpopular which is why supporters have been reluctant to even admit their program is a voucher program.

Thankfully, we had a very honest witness who came to testify in support of expanding the voucher program. He confirmed several things in his testimony:

  1. Missouri’s program is a voucher program.
  2. Most kids who receive vouchers were already enrolled in a private school.
  3. Most people using vouchers are not from low-income families.
  4. Vouchers subsidize, but do not fully cover, private school tuition – this means even if low-income families could get a voucher, they would be on the hook for the rest of the tuition bill.

I appreciate this gentleman’s honesty. We need more of it in the Capitol.

INITIATIVE PETITIONS
The second example I will give happened on the floor of the Missouri Senate. Republicans have said their No. 1 Priority for 2024 is to eliminate “one person, one vote,” and make it harder for voters to pass things at the ballot box. Under the Republicans’ plan, they would count some votes more than others depending on where people live.

Again, this proposal is incredibly unpopular which is why Republicans have tried to bury it beneath “ballot candy.” The term “ballot candy” means to put very popular things at the top of the ballot to trick voters, while there is something totally different (and unpopular) buried at the bottom. Under questioning in the Senate, the bill sponsor told me: “There is absolutely ballot candy in this…”

After this honest admission, Senate Democrats stood for 21 hours straight until the ballot candy was removed from the bill.

I do not mind people proposing bad ideas. In a fair fight, we can beat a bad idea. But when people try to hide their ideas or mislead voters, that’s when I have a real problem. I’m glad these moments of honesty have helped shape a fair fight so voters can make the right decision.

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