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November 4, 2008 General Election; Five (5) Statewide Ballot Questions

What are they? What’s in them? Who’s behind them? Any hidden agendas? What will they really cost us? Are the ballot questions honest?

Analysis & Recommendations from Missouri Family Network

By:  Kerry K. Messer

Constitutional Amendment 1      English as the Official Language Vote   YES

Constitutional Amendment 4      Stormwater Infrastructure Bonds Vote   YES

Proposition A       Casino Expansion With More False Promises Vote   NO

Proposition B       Political Payback Threatens Home Healthcare Vote   NO

Proposition C        Green Mandates Threaten All Utility Services Vote   NO


Constitutional Amendment 1

English as the Official Language

Vote  YES

Constitutional Amendment 1 (Proposed by the Missouri General Assembly, HJR 7, 2007)

Official Ballot Title:  (What you will see in the voting booth)

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to add a statement that English shall be the language of all governmental meetings at which any public business is

discussed, decided, or public policy is formulated whether conducted in person or by communication equipment including conference calls, video conferences, or

Internet chat or message board?

It is estimated this proposal will have no costs or savings to state or local governmental entities.

Missouri Family Network Analysis:   (Why vote YES on Constitutional Amendment 1)

Most opponents of this measure claim it will disenfranchise non-English speaking members of the general public.  They argue that minorities should be able to conduct government business and record official documents in any language they are familiar with.  Such actions and documents create a disadvantage, or misinformation, to the vast majority of Missouri citizens.

Adoption of Constitutional Amendment #1 will NOT prohibit the use of any kind of second language assistance for those who need it.  However, since English is the common language of our state, nation and culture, all government actions would be held and recorded in English.  This way the general public can observe or participate in the spirit of the standard “open meetings” law and understand the proceedings.  Additionally, any government (public) meetings which result in public documents being created to record such meetings and their results will be printed and archived in English so Missourians can review or research such documents without the needed aid of a third party interpreter.

The use of non-English is NOT prohibited if an elected or appointed official has no English speaking skills or is relating communications to non-English individuals.  However, any public votes or other official proceedings must be held and recorded in English with any other languages treated as secondary to English.  Assistance for non-English speaking persons, as participating officials or as general public observers, may be accommodated and is not prohibited.


Constitutional Amendment 4

Stormwater Infrastructure Bonds

Vote  YES

Constitutional Amendment 4 (Proposed by the Missouri General Assembly, SJR 45, 2008)

Official Ballot Title:  (What you will see in the voting booth)

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change provisions relating to the financing of stormwater control projects by:

•   limiting availability of grants and loans to public water and sewer districts only;

•   removing the cap on available funding and existing restrictions on disbursements;

•   requiring loan repayments to be used only for stormwater control projects?

It is estimated the cost to state governmental entities is $0 to $236,000 annually. It is estimated state governmental entities will save approximately $7,500 for

each bond issuance. It is estimated local governmental entities participating in this program may experience savings, however the amount is unknown.

Missouri Family Network Analysis:   (Why vote YES on Constitutional Amendment 4)

Currently the Missouri Constitution provides for the General Assembly to issue bonded indebtedness up to 200 million dollars for stormwater and sewer management systems in first class counties and St. Louis City.  This allows high population density communities financial assistance with infrastructure and sanitation needs.  The Constitution requires the principle and interest of such bonds to be paid through annually assessed tangible property (ad valorem) taxes which cannot be raided by the Legislature for other purposes.

Constitutional Amendment #4 limits use of this financial assistance offered to sewer and water districts to “public” projects only and alters the allocation formula.  The current formula pro-rates available funds based on the populations of all potential qualifying political subdivisions.  This amendment allows the formula to be reevaluated after those communities not needing such funding and allows those with greater needs to reapply for the remaining assets.  Any use of the funds will continue to be distributed based on total population ratios of needy communities as long as funds are available.

The General Assembly is allowed to directly allocate up to 10% (20 million) of the total dollars devoted to these projects.  (Otherwise remaining funds are filtered through the clean water commission and the department of natural resources.)  Current law also requires all loans and grants under this legislative authority to be allocated in a 50% to 50% ratio.  This amendment eliminates this ratio and allows for flexibility in loan/grant balances.  However, the 10% cap on direct allocation remains intact.

All repayments of loans, including interest, shall be deposited back into the fund and no longer transferred back into general revenue.  This provision will help strengthen the program and build a stronger foundation for Missouri’s infrastructure needs.


Proposition A

Casino Expansion With More False Promises

Vote  NO

Proposition A (Proposed through citizen initiative petition)

Official Ballot Title:  (What you will see in the voting booth)

Shall Missouri law be amended to:

•   repeal the current individual maximum loss limit for gambling;

•   prohibit any future loss limits;

•   require identification to enter the gambling area only if necessary to establish that an

individual is at least 21 years old;

•   restrict the number of casinos to those already built or being built;

•   increase the casino gambling tax from 20% to 21%;

•   create a new specific education fund from gambling tax proceeds generated as a result of this

measure called the “Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Improvement Fund”;

and

•   require annual audits of this new fund?

State governmental entities will receive an estimated $105.1 to $130.0 million annually for elementary and secondary education, and $5.0 to $7.0 million

annually for higher education, early childhood development, veterans, and other programs. Local governmental entities receiving gambling boat tax and

fee revenues will receive an estimated $18.1 to $19.0 million annually.

Missouri Family Network Analysis:   (Why vote NO on Proposition A)

Proposition A removes the all important “individual loss limit” of $500 per two hours in Missouri casinos, adding an additional ½ Billion dollar windfall profit to the State’s most politically powerful industry!  It permanently prohibits any future loss limits imposed for crime control or any other reasons.  Prohibits basic business competition from within its own industry peers, disallows many current crime control measures, and builds a false facade of supposed support for schools and public accountability.

Prop A is DANGEROUS for Missourians as it takes away key law enforcement tools needed to prevent and investigate heinous crimes, and it takes away the ability to enforce the Missouri self-ban list, know as the Disassociated Person List, thereby leaving Missouri families vulnerable to the tragic consequences of problem and pathological gambling.

Federal and State law enforcement personnel from numerous agencies agree that loss limits greatly restrict money laundering and discourage organized crime activities.  Criminals from low level drug dealers to sophisticated international terrorists ignore Missouri as they launder cash through casinos.  Management of loss limits provides tools for catching underage gamblers and even verifying alibis of crime suspects.  Proposition A takes all this away!

Prop A is DECEPTIVE about the economy as Missouri’s competitive outlook is exceptionally strong with a loss limit, and removing the loss limit will result in a massive, monopolistic expansion of gambling which will hurt Missouri’s economy and lead to a loss of a half a billion dollars by Missouri families.

Claims of a competitive disadvantage do not match the economic reality of Missouri casinos.  Having grown to a 1.5 Billion dollar industry in just a few short years, Missouri casinos are thriving.  But they are greedy for more.  Proposition A gives a government guarantee for a permanent monopoly to existing casinos!  Engaging in aggressive predatory business practices is already the trademark of the casino industry and Proposition A only adds deeper cutting teeth to their predation!

Prop A is DISHONEST about schools as this petition not only represents another elaborate shell game as demonstrated in 1994, but it’s also dishonest about the grand claims of school funding as half of Missouri schools will not even be eligible for any money and a significant amount of the money in the fund will not be distributed to those schools who are eligible.

While the fine print of the proposal claims that new revenues will “not be used to replace existing funding” of schools, what will actually occur with any new casino revenues is that non-casino funding will be reduced so there will be no “existing funding” to be replaced!  Each year’s state budget for schools is taken out of general revenues first and then designated gambling proceeds are added in.  Until that budget is adopted annually, there is no “existing funding” for that year.  So, just as with every other ‘promise’ about gambling proceeds (former lottery and casino claims) all the legislature has to do is budget less from general revenues for the next year and no “existing funding” will be replaced!

Over the last few years over one hundred millions dollars ($100,000,000) have been added to the state’s budget for public schools.  However, this increase has been due to Missouri‘s economic growth and the political climate that has helped shape our state government.  This increase has nothing to do with casino revenues and could have been even greater if social services were not being strained by the social costs incurred as a result of Missouri casinos.  Interestingly, efforts to commission an unbiased economic impact study to expose this fact have been thwarted by casino industry lobbyists and the millions of dollars casinos use to sway state government in order to keep the general public in the dark over the economic realities associated with their predatory practices.

In the end no “additional” revenues will flow into Missouri classrooms.  In fact, less revenue will be available as the additional social costs of unfettered casino gambling will cost the State more dollars in social services than received in casino tax payments!  This means more taxes will be needed from sales and other forms of taxes to cover the negative balance between casino tax assets and social services liabilities!

For more information visit:  www.NOonA.com


Proposition B

Political Payback Threatens Home Healthcare

Vote  NO

Proposition B (Proposed through citizen initiative petition)

Official Ballot Title:  (What you will see in the voting booth)

Shall Missouri law be amended to enable the elderly and Missourians with disabilities to continue living independently in their homes by creating the Missouri

Quality Homecare Council to ensure the availability of quality home care services under the Medicaid program by recruiting, training, and stabilizing the home

care workforce?

The exact cost of this proposal to state governmental entities is unknown, but is estimated to exceed $510,560 annually. Additional costs for training are possible.

Matching federal funds, if available, could reduce state costs. It is estimated there would be no costs or savings to local governmental entities.

Missouri Family Network Analysis:   (Why vote NO on Proposition B)

The above ballot question to appear in a voting booth near you was written, as well as the other Propositions in this election, by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.  The storyline of this question is very misleading on its surface, expands government involvement in personal healthcare, and is deceitful within the fine print unavailable in the voting booth.

First.  Shall “the elderly and Missourians with disabilities continue living independently in their homes” is a scare tactic in the first line.  No one, not a single lawmaker, politician, healthcare policy advocate, or any other credible voice suggesting anything otherwise.  Everyone knows and understands that quality home healthcare is far cheaper than any form of institutional care.  Homecare is universally agreed to be better physically, mentally, and emotionally for the wellness of the vast majority of individuals.  Everyone in healthcare policy strives to expand homecare as the first and preferred choice.  No credible threat otherwise exist!

Next.  Proposition B only creates more layers of government bureaucracy in the delivery of personal health care needs.  Every program run by government is less efficient and less responsive toward those in need than private competition based services which attract quality personnel who have the attributes that fit the services offered.  Do we really need another government program to oversee a government program?  The cost to Missouri taxpayers has been lowball “estimated” to run over a half million dollars, PLUS the “additional cost for training” is left totally unanswered!

Lastly – but of no less concern.  It is deceitful that the labor/unionization issue is left completely out of the ballot question!  Proposition B has little to do with true quality care, but is focused on wages and driving up care costs!  Throughout the proposal are details about how this new government group is to oversee the “workforce” of the industry with all personal care attendants across Missouri becoming “employees” of the Council for certain purposes.  The measure then reclassifies all home care attendants throughout the State as a single unit, even if they only provide personal care for a close relative.  Once established, this singular unit, by only a ten percent (10%) vote will create a union with collective bargaining rights!

Shame on Secretary of State Robin Carnahan for failing to tell the truth to Missourians!  Only time will tell how many hurting Missouri families will be priced out of home care and forced into government run institutions, just so some labor union can collect dues from the State’s 15,000 personal home care providers!  Anyone care to guess where her political donations will be coming from?


Proposition C

Green Mandates Threaten All Utility Services

Vote  NO

Proposition C (Proposed through citizen initiative petition)

Official Ballot Title:  (What you will see in the voting booth)

Shall Missouri law be amended to require investor-owned electric utilities to generate or purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind,

biomass and hydropower with the renewable energy sources equaling at least 2% of retail sales by 2011 increasing incrementally to at least 15% by 2021, including

at least 2% from solar energy; and restricting to no more than 1% any rate increase to consumers for this renewable energy?

The estimated direct cost to state governmental entities is $395,183.  It is estimated there are no direct costs or savings to local governmental entities.  However,

indirect costs may be incurred by state and local governmental entities if the proposal results in increased electricity retail rates.

Missouri Family Network Analysis:   (Why vote NO on Proposition C)

On first read Proposition C sounds great.  But how can statutory law force utility producers/providers to meet artificial thresholds for alternative energy sales and not allow the cost for producing the energy to be paid for?  Yes, utility companies operate in tens and hundreds of millions of dollars annually.  But these high dollars are derived from shear volume of customers.  This mandate is impractical to impose and could very well result in an energy train-wreck similar to California’s disaster.  (All the same elements will be set in motion that led to the California nightmare.)

Establish any business with a relatively small margin of profit (remember utilities are like McDonalds, the huge profits are in the huge customer base).  Now you have only two years to find and replace 2% of your product line with alternative sales.  In just another ten years you are required to come up with alternative sources of product for no less than 15% of your total sales without passing on the cost to your customers!  Get real!

Environmentalists often feed on one another’s latest fears.  If they sell Proposition C to Missouri, buckle up because we may be in for a rough ride.  Quality and reliability can be expected to take a nose dive as preventative services for electrical delivery is forced to absorb financial shocks.  Don’t expect the same amiable customer services from operators and linemen when they are all discouraged with wage cuts.  And when future natural disasters hit Missouri – don’t expect those caravans of work crews from around the country flooding in to restore power in days instead of weeks, because Missouri utilities simply will not be able to pay for such services.

Free markets that are ‘not free’ also lose their freedom to be benevolent.  Missouri utility companies forgive millions of dollars in unpaid bills annually.  Benevolence ministries and organizations who go through the proper protocols and represent customers who have become financially destitute are regularly given reduced or zeroed bills through amicable negotiations.  By reducing, straining, or even eliminating profits, Missouri electrical service providers will not be able to be so gracious to their poorer customers.  This will add strain to both private and public social services and adds impetus to higher taxes down the road.  Don’t expect the benefits of alternative fuels without paying the costs, one way or the other!

Alternative energy is a wonderful goal that most of us support with anticipation.  But the artificial demands of Proposition C are unworkable and unwise.  If it passes, don’t expect it to survive.  The Legislature will be forced to rewrite it by the complaints and demands of the very folks who voted ‘yes’ thinking it was a good idea, yet unaware of the economics of energy production/delivery.  A ‘no’ vote with a degree of faith in the free market is a much wiser path until a more reasonable plan is put forward.

– End –

Ballot Issues Analysis, 2008 General Election