Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kimberling City Republican: Why I voted against charter school bill

(From Rep. Don Phillips, R-Kimberling City)

From time to time legislators must take very difficult votes on bills and this week I had two of those votes; HCS HB 634 and HCB 3. I always error on the side of what constituents tell me they want and on the side of compassion. I’m a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. Everyone won’t always agree with me but I always vote YES or NO. I never vote PRESENT! I think that button is yellow for a reason!

HCS HB 634, relating to charter schools, barely passed the House by a vote of 83-74. (It takes 82 votes to pass a bill). I was a NO vote. Thanks to a floor amendment, the final bill was a vast improvement over the first bill that was passed out of committee. I voted YES on the amendment, so that the bill would be better if it passed. However, I just couldn’t vote for the final bill. An overwhelming number of constituents contacted me concerned about this bill. Charter Schools have proven to generally be a failure and they take money away from the public schools. In rural areas, a charter school could cause a small public school to close which would devastate that community!

HCB 3 (House Committee Bill), relating to funding for vulnerable senior citizens, passed the House 85-72. This bill eliminated the senior rental tax credits which folks on fixed incomes depend on to keep them in affordable housing. I was a NO vote. We allow tax credits for all sorts of other things and yet we seem to not only overlook our senior citizens but take away what’s already there to help them! Note: A House Committee bill is one that is generated by the committee itself rather than a bill sponsor. It begins with a sub-committee and public hearings. When it passes the committee, the chairman of that committee becomes the bill sponsor.

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