I have been getting a lot of questions from folks on the initiative proposals that will be on the ballot next Tuesday and promised them that I would write a column explaining them.
Well, great minds must think alike because Rep. Reiboldt did an excellent job of explaining the issues in his column this week.
But, a promise is a promise and besides, there is an old adage in politics that just because everything has been said doesn’t mean that everyone has said it. So, I’m going to talk about the ballot issues but take a little different tack — I’m going to give you my personal opinion on them and how I intend to vote. Now, remember that you get what you pay for and opinions are free, so take that into consideration as you read my thoughts.
Constitutional Amendment 3 would change the way Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges are selected in Missouri. While our current system does have its share of flaws, I really don’t want to give any governor (Democratic or Republican) more power than they already have. A yes vote would change our current system and do just that so I’m going to vote no and keep our current non-partisan selection process.
Proposition A has to do with the City of St. Louis police department. The way I understand it, around the time of the Civil War the St. Louis police force was rife with corruption and the state took it over. While I understand why folks 150 years ago thought that was in the best interest of everyone concerned, it is way past time to let the city take care of their own police force. I’m a big believer in local control and I’m pretty sure the folks in St. Louis are more than capable of running this department themselves instead of bureaucrats in Jefferson City. I’m voting yes which would allow that transfer of control back to the city.
Proposition B is the tobacco tax increase (of 760 percent). Yep, you read correctly – 760 percent. Now, the proponents of the increase argue that we have the lowest tobacco tax in the country and the increase wouldn’t even take us to the top of the list. They also say that a good share of the tax increase will go to education and that they have safeguards in place to make sure that happens.
First of all, as a general rule, I don’t like increases in taxes but I am willing to look at any increase on its own merits and decide whether or not to support it. In this case I am not in support of increasing tobacco taxes so I will be voting no.
Page 2 of 2 - While the proponents say they have these safeguards in place to make sure the money goes to education, in reality they cannot keep the General Assembly from appropriating less money from general revenue thereby using this increased tax revenue as an offset. And, if you increase the taxes you are going to lose a lot of out of state business and the revenue that the proponents anticipate raising will fall drastically. I know that the primary purpose behind the increase is to curb smoking, but just say that and don’t try to “bribe” people to vote for it by saying it will go to education.
Finally we have Proposition E which would prohibit the governor or any state agency from setting up a state health exchange as required by Obamacare. If the President is re-elected then we are going to be stuck with the so-called healthcare reform (which is actually health insurance reform and does nothing for the healthcare systems itself). That means we will have to have a health insurance exchange set up by the state or the feds will set one up for us.
Even with that threat hanging over our head, I still think the General Assembly needs to be the ones to set up the exchange. Therefore I will be voting yes (which would prohibit anyone other than the legislature of a vote of the people to set up the exchange).
There you have it, my thoughts on the ballot issues. I know that many of you won’t agree with my analysis and, quite frankly, won’t care. But, several of you have asked my opinion so now you have it. I hope that I have given you something to think about before you cast your ballot on Tuesday.
And speaking of Tuesday, if you don’t care enough to vote then I don’t want to hear you gripe on Wednesday about the outcome. Men and women have given their lives for your right to either vote or not but because of their sacrifice I don’t want to hear one whine out of anyone who doesn’t honor that sacrifice by voting.
Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.