Your Missouri Wonky Week – Jan. 13

This week in Missouri’s wonky news! 

We’re complete policy wonks, and we own that. 

We talk about politics and polls and studies and data all the time. (Some say too much.) And we have a hunch that you’re keen on knowing what’s going on “in the weeds” here in the Show Me State. So we wanted to share (in a blissfullySHORT newsletter – we promise!!) some Missouri-specific things we think are interesting right now. So below, we’ve got Something Interesting to Read, a bit more in-depth wonky-ness with Your In The Weeds Moment, a feature highlighting some great things you’re doing in our “Race to the Top” … and an inspiring quote Michele wanted to share with you.

Something Interesting to Read: 

Well, our brave Democratic lawmakers are back in Jefferson City for the next legislative session.  

There have been a few legislative roundups about what’s been filed, and there’s a whole host of terrible-awful legislation that we can discuss! At least we won’t be at a loss for content. 

But here’s the biggie: redistricting. The GOP wants nothing to do with Clean Missouri’s independent demographer system, and they’re throwing the equivalent of a legislative hissy-fit. They’re going to try (again) to put redistricting back on the 2020 ballot. They tried the same thing last session, but because we made some noise and they had a few procedural snafus, they couldn’t get it across the finish line. So they’re at it again. 

“I think it’s safe to say we will move on it very quickly,” said House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield. 

Here’s what they don’t like: 62% of Missourians – 1,469,093 people – passed the Clean Missouri amendment, which uses a nonpartisan state demographer to draw the districts, which are then reviewed by a commission. Changes can be made – but only if 70% of the commission approves. 

Besides being contiguous and compact, districts have to be drawn with an eye toward partisan fairness/competitiveness. “The goal would be to have a more even mix of voters in redrawn districts so that one party wouldn’t have an advantage over the other.”  Gee. Sure sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?  Well, 62% of us thought so in 2018. Guess they didn’t hear us the first time. 

Read more HERE, and at the Clean Missouri website HERE.

Your “Completely In the Weeds Moment”:  

Pew Charitable Trusts just came out with a new analysis of how well states have bounced back from the recession. The good news: Missouri’s state tax revenue improved from last quarter, and is now again above what it had been before the recession. The not-so-good news: We’re only up by 0.4%. 

We’re waaayyyy behind other states – both in the level of recovery and in how long it took us to get there. And we’re not comparing ourselves to states on the coasts – we’re lagging behind states that are right next door

Arkansas: 8.5%

Kansas: 17.7%  [YES!?! KANSAS!]

Nebraska: 14%

Oklahoma: 1.9%

Tennessee: 18.3%

Kentucky: 6.2%

Illinois: 20.9%

Iowa: 12.4%  

We are light years behind our neighbors in tax revenue. Because our GOP-supermajority state legislature just cut corporate taxes again, we won’t be improving our standing any time soon. Why does it matter? Well, because state tax revenue pays for a heckuva lot of really important stuff. 

When our MDOT leaders ask for more money for roads and decaying bridges and legislators have to respond by introducing another gas tax … maybe it’s time to question the intelligence of cutting corporate taxes in the first place. Isn’t it? Check out the study HERE.

Introducing… The Race to the TOP!

You know, last time we introduce a “race to the bottom.” Maybe because we were feeling extra snarky that day or something. But the fact is, It Starts Today-Missouri is all about lifting everyone up. So poking fun at the silly things the GOP does just didn’t feel … right. (Even if it’s pretty easy to do and feels reeeaaallllyyy good in the moment.) So instead, we’re highlighting some great things going on around the state. Please let us know what you’re doing so we can help highlight your work!  

Here’s a fascinating article about an opioid treatment center in Springfield: Jordan Valley Community Health Center. Their walk-in clinic for people suffering from opioid addiction is pretty revolutionary – and promising. You can read about it HERE.  

In November, Kansas City voted to ban domestic violence offenders from carrying guns. This month, both the City and County of St. Louis announced similar laws. Three cheers for common sense gun legislation! (Friendly reminder that Missouri’s chapter of Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is having its legislative advocacy day on February 18. Check out their Facebook page for more details at https://www.facebook.com/MomsDemandActionMO/

And if you’re a fan of Panera, french onion soup, or The Office, then you’ll get a kick out of Panera’s new YouTube video featuring St. Louis native and The Office star Phyllis Smith. In September Panera removed its french onion soup to make room for other seasonal fare; the social media reaction was swift and brutal. Their spot bringing the soup back casts Phyllis as their social media coordinator responding to the … uh … challenging comments. Check it out HERE.

“I’m just one person … said SEVEN billion people.” Michele stopped in her tracks when she saw this meme, and we knew we had to share it with you. Because it’s the truth.

Without each of us using the power we DO have, we just can’t get anywhere at all. We know you’re working your tail off to elect more Democrats. We’re darn grateful for it, too, because none of this democracy stuff works without you.

Your friendly policy wonks at It Starts Today-Missouri are right there by your side. In case you don’t know who we are, we’re a community of folks like you who work together to fund every single Democratic nominee for Missouri state legislature with small-dollar monthly donations (over 12,000 and counting!). 

Oh, right! I meant to sign up for this! I know Democratic nominees need my help and I’m ready to join! 

It’s pretty simple: folks like you kick in a few bucks a month (as Fran told us last month, “that’s less than a froofy coffee!”) … and after the primary we split the community funds evenly between every single Democratic nominee for MO state legislature.  

We leave no nominee behind. 

By joining, people like you are doing something NOW to remove barriers for great people to run for office, and make sure Dems all over the state have the resources to reach voters. You’re also forcing GOP nominees to fight in every district – not pool their cash and send it to the places they’re most vulnerable. 

You should totally join, because all the Democrats are doing it. 😉 With over 12,000 donations already, you’ll be in great company. Join us today at www.itstarts.today/missouri

Stay wonky!