Republican Sen. Bill Eigel wants to cut taxes while upping infrastructure funding
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri state Sen. Bill Eigel, a Republican from Weldon Spring, has pre-filed a bill that would offer a major overhaul of the state’s tax system. He said the measure would cut taxes for a majority of Missourians while streamlining the collection process by doing away with some deductions and exemptions.
What’s different about this bill is that it also calls for a raise in the state’s fuel tax — currently one of the lowest in the nation — to increase infrastructure funding. Eigel, who hails from a growing suburban community, said he realizes the importance of maintaining Missouri’s transportation systems. Even though he has opposed raising the fuel tax before, he believes such a measure is acceptable when included in a larger package that reduces the overall tax burden on Missouri citizens.
Eigel said the bill dovetails with like-minded proposals currently making their way through the Republican-controlled United States Congress.
Some worry the measure is too extreme, as it proposes a slow elimination of the income tax in its entirety. Others simply believe now is the wrong time for Missouri to consider cutting taxes that pay for important public programs that are already underfunded — things such as education and health care.
As a multimedia specialist for the Missouri Senate, I had the opportunity to create a video package on the proposed legislation. Watch it below, and be sure to visit senate.mo.gov for the latest updates on this specific legislation, Senate Bill 617, and other notable bills.
The Missouri General Assembly is set to convene Jan. 3 to begin its 2018 regular legislative session.
A northeast Missouri medical school celebrates a pivotal milestone
KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — A.T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU), the country’s first osteopathic medical school, celebrates its 125th anniversary this weekend.
To honor this milestone, the ATSU Communication & Marketing Department collaborated with the Kirksville Daily Express on a special insert for the daily newspaper. The section, available online or on local newsstands Wednesday, features several articles on the history of the institution, what sets it apart and where it might be headed in the future.
Support local journalism by reading some top-notches pieces, bylined by yours truly:
UPDATE (7/11/17): School administration has replied to the New York Times’ story. In an official statement, university leaders denote specific material omitted from the Times’ report, which, had it been included, may have provided much-needed context.
UPDATE (7/10/17): MU Student Body President Nathan Willett has addressed the New York Times’ story in a guest commentary for the Kansas City Star. Willett says the report paints “an unreasonably and inaccurately bleak image” of the university.
Sunday night, the New York Times released an interesting piece cataloging the recent decline in enrollment at the University of Missouri, linking it to a series of racially motivated protests that occurred on the campus in fall 2015.
The result is a decent article, but I can’t help but think the Times is oversimplifying the issue to fit a preordained narrative. (For transparency’s sake, it should be noted that I just recently graduated from MU’s journalism program, myself.) That’s the difficulty a national outlet faces when covering a local story, especially one as controversial as this.
Regardless, the Times is correct in noting the financial trouble MU now faces, and that this strain was brought about in large part from a decline in student enrollment following the tumultuous protests.
But lower enrollment could have multiple (and concurrent) causes, including:
1. A decrease in statewide high school graduation totals (link)
2. Cuts to higher education funding from the state legislature (link)
3. A perceptual deficit, stemming from years of enrollment growth followed by backsliding (link)
4. Losing sports teams (seriously: link)
The public — and journalists, too — should be careful in implying direct causation from a mere surface-level correlation when many variables ought to be considered in tandem. Context is key.
Missouri’s most notable claim-to-fame in modern legal philosophy is often overlooked.
The state’s constitutionally guaranteed system of merit-based judicial selection — the “Missouri Plan,” as it’s often called — marked a seismic shift in the process of court appointment, one that swept the nation in a grand revision of how we populate many of our appellate and high courts.
By forgoing popular alternatives of direct election and nomination-confirmation of state judges, Missouri ushered in a new “nonpartisan” era of judicial selection.
After the Plan’s initial adoption in the mid-1900s, dozens of states followed, creating merit-based systems of their own. Newly democratic nations across Europe and South America drew inspiration from the Plan in writing their own constitutions, as did even a few established democracies during historic reformation votes.
And Missouri started it all.
What follows is a brief overview of the philosophy and origins of the Missouri Plan, a lightly edited excerpt taken from my undergraduate thesis work at the University of Missouri.
“Inappropriate” bonus payments to university employees — totaling over $2 million — were sometimes marked as incentives but had no specific criteria, according to the Missouri state auditor in a report released Monday.
Funds were also dispersed for luxury vehicle allowances, even though a mileage reimbursement system might have been more efficient.