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Our nation’s economy is in an upheaval, and I would be lying if I said I have the answers to fix it.
But one thing I know is that we cannot spend ourselves out of it, and there needs to be some common sense applied.
I thought it was interesting last week when there was talk of shutting down government. They weren’t really serious. Very little “government” would have been shut down.
Salaries of elected officials would continue. Facilities that actually make money for the government would have been shut down. And we wonder why there is an economic crisis.
Not much wonder to it.
Furthermore, it was announced that if workers volunteered to go to work – without pay – they would be fired.
In terms of the federal government economic situation, it’s been said more than once, and it’s true: we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.
However, I’m not so sure that’s true in our state government and I’m almost certain it’s not true with out local government.
I don’t like to pay taxes any more than the next person. But I also know we get what we pay for, and for the most part there is no free lunch (although some have come to expect it.)
We remember, too, that a few years ago proponents of the Missouri Lottery told us that the lottery would solve all our financial problems and schools would be the notable benefactor.
While there’s no question the lottery is bringing in more dollars, we don’t seem to have any more to show for it, due largely, I believe, to the fact that most of the profit is being swallowed up by administration (or administrators).
Certainly our schools are not reaping the great benefits they were promised.
What I’m about to say may cause an earthquake in the Girdner Cemetery where my Republican ancestors are buried, but I agree with something I read the other day by Sara Lampe, Democratic representative from District 138 (Springfield).
The ranking member of the minority party on the House Budget Committee says Missouri ranks 46th in state revenues, 46th in median family income, 47th in state taxes, 45th in state expenditures, 38th in K-12 school spending, and 49th in colleges and universities.
Some of the things she recommends to shore up our state’s financial situation are eliminating some of the $700 million a year in tax credits given to private businesses, individuals and organizations, enacting streamlined tax collection to capture the millions in taxes on internet sales that are owed, but not paid, and discontinuing the practice of paying businesses for paying their taxes on time.
She said, “Missourians must ask themselves what they need from state government and what they are willing to offer to achieve it.”
The same can be said for our local governmental entities.
Ava businessman Max Murphy said almost the same thing at the Chamber of Commerce Membership and Awards Banquet a couple of weeks ago, when he told the business people congregated there that they must be willing to put back into the community if the local business community is going to survive.
That includes both physical and financial contributions.
In recent years, voters in Douglas County have turned down proposals to build a new high school, a new jail and a new justice center. While it’s true they may have been voting against the plan as much as the additional taxes, certainly the money issue was a factor.
Last November the people of Douglas County elected a new presiding commissioner and last Tuesday the people of Ava elected a new mayor.
Commissioner Larry Pueppke and Mayor Eddie Maggard may come in with new ideas and different philosophies than their predecessors, but they will not effect major change overnight and they will only be able to accomplish what the people are willing to do (and pay for) themselves.
Going back to Sara Lampe’s comments, she said, “Doing the best we can under the circumstances is not the same as doing what we must for the future of our state.”
The future of our city, our schools and our county hinges on what we are willing to do to make them the best they can be.