Monday, May 09, 2016
Emery: Public school funding, paycheck protection overrides show system works
Last week saw the political application of Missouri’s balance-of-power form of Republic. Three branches of government may at times seem cumbersome, but its design could be considered divine. In fact it is; the idea came from Isaiah 33, verse 22: “For the Lord is our judge (Judiciary), the Lord is our lawgiver (Legislative), the Lord is our king (Executive);…” A frequently expressed mistake is that the three branches are “co-equal” rather than “co-sovereign.” The quote from Federalist 78 is one of many historical references that confirm co-sovereign is the accurate description at both the state and federal levels.
Last week in Jefferson City, the branches lawfully clashed. The first case was on Senate Bill 586. This bill modifies the definition of "current operating expenditures" by restoring the 5 percent cap on the growth of public school operating expenditures and modifying the definition of "state adequacy target." The bill was passed by the legislature and sent to the governor on April 9; he then vetoed SB 586 on May 5. However, last week the Missouri Senate and House, by two thirds majority votes, overrode the governor’s veto. Now, on August 28, SB 586 will become law.
The second clash last week was on House Bill 1891, the “paycheck protection” bill. House Bill 1891 prohibits any membership fees from being withheld from a public employee’s earnings for a public labor organization without an annual written or electronic authorization by the employee. The bill passed the House and Senate and was sent to the governor on March 3, was vetoed on March 18, and received a House override vote on May 4. It is on the Senate’s calendar awaiting an override vote. That vote will be taken the last week of Session and, with the required two thirds votes, will become law on August 28.
Another upcoming checks and balances issue occurs in Senate Bill 823, which is in House/Senate conference and includes the Legislature’s response to a recent Missouri Supreme Court opinion regarding sales taxes. The language in SB 823, if included in the final version and passed, will void the Supreme Court opinion. Such an action is undertaken infrequently but is within the jurisdiction and power of the Legislature. I am hoping our divine system of checks and balances will come to the rescue of the people once again and SB 823 will pass with the abrogation language intact.
Each of these confrontations illustrates the inestimable value of our system of government. There is none like it in the world, and in words often attributed to Winston Churchill, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”