As a state senator, it is within my ability to stop just about any piece of legislation, as long as there are one or two other senators who will stand with me. There were at least four senators who were willing to stand against House Bill 15. The bill states that $189 million in federal dollars, borrowed from China, would help fund Missouri schools. As vice-chair of the Senate Education Committee and as a parent, I fully support Missouri schools, but I do not support spending money that we don’t have. However, we did not filibuster House Bill 15.
Before House Bill 15 and the $189 million of stimulus funds borrowed from China came up on the Senate floor for debate, the extension of unemployment benefits was a big topic of discussion. Three other senators and I filibustered the unemployment compensation bill (House Bill 163) until an agreement was made to reform Missouri’s portion of unemployment compensation, which would save Missouri employers well over $110 million per year. The unemployment benefits extension was about $104 million, so those two items came out to almost a dollar-for-dollar agreement. As a result of the filibuster, we were also able to negotiate the refusal of approximately $250 million in wasteful stimulus funds, therefore saving the people of Missouri and America hundreds of millions of dollars.
Since compromise was made during the House Bill 163 filibuster regarding federal funds and an agreement was made between lawmakers, I did not personally stop House Bill 15 from coming to a vote. However, I want to be perfectly clear — I cannot and will not support House Bill 15.
Please allow me to explain my position. As Americans, we will indeed learn, sooner or later, how foolish it is to continue pushing our problems off to the future, and how devastating it is for a nation to sink further and further into debt. What the governor and the federal government have cooked up is nothing short of parlor tricks and is yet another example of money shuffling and avoiding inevitable problems. Pushing problems into an uncertain future without fixing any aspect of the issue is asking for disaster, and I will not be a part of it.
I also want to point out that what the governor is trying to do by supplanting funds for next year is questionable, in the best of terms. Many people have been misled regarding the full fiscal impact of saying “yes” to federal, Chinese dollars. Those who promote the idea of saying “yes” to dollars the federal government doesn’t have do not understand that dollars always have strings attached, and they leave out many important aspects that the public should know. Often, these people say things such as, “If we don’t get these Chinese dollars, we’ll have to fire teachers and many other horrible things!” That is a typical and frankly, a worn-out technique, and I see it as less than honest.
Now, let’s talk about the clear will of the people and my philosophical beliefs that prevent me from being in favor of these federal, Chinese dollars that are offered to us from the federal government with strings attached:
•The people have made themselves clear for the last couple years that they are sick and tired of the federal government sticking their nose in our business.
•The people do not want the federal government to continue to get more and more involved with Missouri public schools.
•The people have asked us to begin weaning our state from influence and control of the federal government.
We, as a state, must begin to make extremely tough and gut-wrenching decisions that have been put off for far too long. We cannot continue the process of becoming more and more dependent on the federal government. We must begin to say “no” when the federal government tries to bail us out of every problem that we have.
I’m fully aware my stance is not popular, but I’m convinced it is the right thing to do. I have three children in our public schools and was a substitute high school teacher. I believe that what’s right is not always popular, and what’s popular is not always right.