At the beginning of this year’s legislative session, we brought in a legislative life coach, for lack of a better term. He was a former Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives who had a horrible scandal filled fall from grace. One of the points he brought up in the discussion was to keep the materials from your first election, and refer to them often to make sure you live up to the ideals that got you where you are.
When the debate about education funding began to heat up, I held on to that piece of advice very deeply. This weekend, I went through a box (I need a better filing system) of materials and mementos from the summer of 2014. In that box lies my old campaign fliers, the postcard I sent and much more. It was a great exercise in reality, and a much needed break to unwind after a very tense week. I see that I have consistently been for keeping taxes low and finding any other source for funding, while even during the campaign realizing that teachers are underpaid and the easiest solution to the problem is through rural economic development. Well, that takes time, and teachers need help now. That’s the passion behind the vote on HB 1182.
One of the questions I receive a lot in the debate of HB 1182 is how can you possibly be against teachers when you voted to increase taxes on 2015’s SB1 highway funding bill? Simple. If SB1’s first proposal of $.18 per gallon was voted on publicly, I would have immediately voted no, as I did in whip group discussions and other chances to negotiate on the tax increase. The final bill set gas taxes up $.06, and I voted for it. I still believe that teachers need a raise, and I still believe the money exists now to get it moving this year. Whatever happens this week, one thing is for sure. No matter how it is funded, I am going to make sure that the subject of the Blue Ribbon Task Force is the target of any funds we appropriate. Teachers are the reason this discussion began–teacher shortages and teacher pay inequity. Let’s fix that. Together.