How to use Petitions to increase Democratic turnout in rural areas!

The reason I began to consider the subject was from a speech at a Democratic party organization.  Someone had made a statement that rural areas weren’t concerned about education.  The speaker, who had traveled in rural areas of MO, stated that education was a theme brought to his attention on a regular basis.  At this time MO has just reduced state aid to schools and colleges for the second year in a row.  In addition, the gambling bill was passed in the past to help schools.  What has happened is that the income from our gambling has allowed the state to reduce the amount of aid from the general revenue fund that it gives to local districts.

MO has reduced state aid to schools by:

Last year saw 400 million dollars cut.
This year looking at another 100 million dollars.
Inflation (between 2001 and 2014) has eroded the purchasing power of state aid by $554 per student.

MO has seen a reduction of income because of it:

Repealed Estate tax.
Repealed Franchise tax.

Both of these repeated bills cut tax revenue substantially more than expected causing stress on the state budget.

MO has a business-friendly corporation tax rate.  To bring in more revenue, we could put a 1.33 percent tax on Missouri’s private sector industries of GSP  (Missouri Gross State Product). Private sector industries with a GSP of less than 5 million would be exempt allowing small businesses to not be affected.  This tax would apply to many corporations that are positioned out of state or even out of the country with little effect on MO consumers.  For prices that might increase because of the tax, the effect would be minimal, for example, a nickel increase on a Big Mac from McDonald’s. Yet the local restaurant and other small businesses would be exempt.

In MO, tax increases must be by the vote of the citizens. The state congress can put a tax increase on the ballot, but Republicans interests influenced by lobbyist could halt this procedure.   Also, in MO, and some 20 other states, we are still allowed to collect signatures on petitions for our selected interest and have the petition brought up for a vote by the people at a general election. In MO, we need a certain percent of the voters in 6 of the 8 congressional districts to sign the petition for it to be placed on the ballot for voters to approve.  The problem encountered is that much of MO is rural.  This not only makes it hard tocollect signatures but as the rural areas tend to vote Republican; many liberal ideas do not attract signatories.

For a petition to be effective for rural areas, the following conditions need to be met:
1. The petition needs to benonpolitical and directed toward the needs of rural as well as urban residents. School financing is a recurring problem throughout the state.
2. The petition needs a state organized group(s) which supports and can distribute and collect signatures.  Teacher’s share an interest and two unions, the PTA and PTO, and the MO Teachers Associations have state wide influence.
3. There needs to be a benefit to a large and influential group to encourage them to collect signatures.  MO educators from school boards to teachers and administrator staffs can visualize wage increase along with teaching aids.
4. The petition needs to generate opposition from the Republican party in a way that degrades rural opinions of republicans. Hence, the possibility of voting a Democratic straight ticket. Republicans will be tempted to oppose increased school funding because of increased taxes.
5. The petition shouldn’t have any (or little) direct cost to the residents.  The tax will apply to out of state and other countries corporations.
6. The petition should have a direct benefit to the state. Studies haveshown that businesses tend to move to states that have a good educational system.  Not only will there be a better pool of workers, but they will be attractive to more high-level employees who wish a good education system for their children.

The revenue from this petition is to be spent in addition to existing education budgets, not as a replacement.   The revenue from this petition will be distributed with one third percent going to higher education with the balance going to other educational needs.
The state will maintain a regular educational budget equal to the 2001 educational budget adjusted for inflation.  At anytime the state does not meet these budgets for education, funds will be transferred from the elected officials budget to meet any shortfall.

I feel that not only would this petition bring in extra money for schools, but would be easy to pass.  Not only are there a lot of statewide groups that would be interested, but summer college students returning to all parts of the state would be a help in getting signatures.

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