Better without higher taxes

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Here is a continuation of Wednesday's column regarding Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton's bullet points headlined "The Miraculous Missouri Turnaround: The Show Me State Takes a New Direction and Moves Forward."

Secondary and Elementary Education

General revenue Department of Elementary and Secondary expenditures:

2005: $2,562,386,690

2006: $2,558,361,252 -$4,025,438

2007: $2,739,824,155 +$181,462,903

2008: $2,844,383,545 +$104,559,390

2009: $3,007,865,853 +$163,482,308

Total increase: $445,479,163

Missouri is one of only six states where fourth-graders are improving their scores on national math tests.

A record number of Missouri high school seniors (74 percent) took the ACT last year, and they beat the average national score of 21.

Missouri went from withholding education funding to the largest education budget in the state's history.

Higher education

General revenue higher education expenditures:

2005: $862,342,574

2006: $855,961,813 -$6,380,761

2007: $896,395,398 +$40,433,585

2008: $936,476,532 +$40,081,134

2009: $1,044,233,292 +$107,746,760

Total increase: $188,261,479

Since 2005 Missouri has added $45 million in need-based scholarships.

The creation of the Access Missouri program has led Missouri to go from issuing 16,400 need-based scholarships to 36,000.

$289 million in new funding has been invested in construction of classrooms and labs at colleges and universities across the state.

With the help of Access Missouri, more families than ever before are able to send their children to colleges that are receiving large investments in improving their classrooms and science labs.

Creating a better business environment

As of Sept. 20, Missouri has created 92,900 new jobs since January 2005.

During the Holden administration Missouri lost 70,000 jobs.

Job growth achieved through policies like tort reform, workers' compensation reform and business incentives.

Missouri has gone from the No. 1 job loss state to 92,900 new jobs.

Improving transportation

Missouri has gone from having the third-worst pavement on major roads to the ninth-best.

The $5.7 billion spent on transportation has resulted in $20.52 billion in economic activity.

Safety improvements on major highways have resulted in 161 fewer people losing their lives in 2006 compared to the previous year.

Missouri leads the nation with the largest drop in traffic fatalities.

Missouri has the third lowest administrative costs per mile.

The Missouri Department of Transportation went from politics and broken promises to putting money toward improving roads.

Cutting taxes: The Senior Tax Justice Act

Tax cut on Social Security and public pension benefits (teachers, veterans, policemen and firefighters).

300,000 Missourians will benefit from this $153.8 million tax cut.

Missouri has been able to cut taxes and still produce surplus revenue.

Helping Missouri's most vulnerable citizens

Funding for the autism program has increased by $7,765,010.

Funding for SCHIP has increased by $30,290,680.

Funding for First Steps Program has increased by $4,357,398.

$2,031,188 for the food pantry tax credit.

Funding for utilicare has increased by $6,440,785.

Funding for sheltered workshops has increased by $5,199,700.

Missouri has been able to increase funding for programs that were unable to help when the economy and budget were not in their current good shape. These programs go far to help protect and aid some of Missouri's most important and vulnerable citizens.

Decreasing abortions in Missouri

Last year Missouri had the lowest number of abortions performed since 1975.

For the first time, even Missouri is below 8,000 abortions a year.

We have gone from 10 abortion clinics in Missouri to three.

Just like Bill Clinton's views on abortion, Missouri has made abortions safe and rare in the state.

Business growth through incentives

Quality Jobs Act:

Ceiling on the tax credit increases from $12 million annually to $40 million.

Land Assemblage Tax Credit:

$10 million tax credit to revitalize distressed areas in north St. Louis.

Enhanced Enterprise Zones:

Cap on the tax credit increases from $7 million to $14 million.

Business incentives have allowed Missouri to better compete with countries like China and Japan and even with neighboring states like Arkansas and Mississippi.

Protecting Missouri communities

Right to carry:

No incidences of a right-to-carry permit holder involved in crime.

However, there were two cases in St. Louis of right-to-carry permit holders stopping crime.

Missouri made communities safer by giving people the right to defend themselves.

Decreasing meth production

Legislation limiting the sale of meth-producing drugs has resulted in a dramatic drop in meth-related incidents:

2003: 2,860

2004: 2,807 -53

2005: 2,170 -637

2006: 1,288 -882

Since 2004, that is a 55 percent drop.

Missouri went from the No. 1 meth-producing state in the nation to a 55 percent drop in meth-related incidents.

Missouri now has ...

More jobs.

Better budget.

Smaller bureaucracy.

Improved roads.

More money for education.

More money for health care.

More funding for programs like autism, energy assistance and SCHIP.

Safer communities: Jessica's Law, right to carry, decreasing meth production.

Jetton concluded his remarks with this comment. "The experts and members of the media said there was no way to fix Missouri's problems without tax increases. But we did it all with ... NO NEW TAXES."

These are the facts as presented by Jetton -- to be challenged if inaccurate -- before we descend into election campaigns of personalities, gotcha comments and content spin.

The issues in the political campaign of 2008 locally, state and national should be:

Where were we?

Where are we now?

Where do you think we should be, and how do you propose to get us there?

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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