Opinion and Local

Endorsements

State of Missouri Constitutional Amendment No. 2
“Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to:
 adopt Medicaid Expansion for persons 19 to 64 years old with an income level at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, as set forth in the Affordable Care Act;
prohibit placing greater or additional burdens on eligibility or enrollment standards, methodologies or practices on persons covered under Medicaid Expansion than on any other population eligible for Medicaid;
and require state agencies to take all actions necessary to maximize federal financial participation in funding medical assistance under Medicaid Expansion?
State government entities are estimated to have one-time costs of approximately $6.4 million and an unknown annual net fiscal impact by 2026 ranging from increased costs of at least $200 million to savings of $1 billion.
Local governments expect costs to decrease by an unknown amount.”

The Weston Chronicle urges you to vote yes on Amendment 2 for several reasons.
1. Public Health. It is important that every member of the public have access to health care, especially during a pandemic. We can see from the hospitalizations and deaths, that those in the lower income brackets are most affected by the Coronavirus.  Not only are they generally essential workers, but they are unlikely to have regular health care. They are more likely to use the emergency room for a problem, having put off a doctor’s visit because of cost.
2. Rural hospitals. Missouri has lost a number of rural hospitals, not because there wasn’t a population to serve, but because so many of their area residents don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t afford health insurance. The states that expanded their Medicaid programs have not seen the numbers of closures we have.
3. Economic activity. The federal government will pay most of the cost of the Medicaid expansion, and that money supports hospitals, nurses, doctors and all the people who keep our health care system going throughout the state.
4. The people this will cover are low-wage workers. Let’s emphasize “workers!” They are the people who are working at low-wage jobs with no insurance coverage. They are pulling themselves out of poverty, or trying to keep themselves out.
They generally live paycheck to paycheck and can be just one flat tire away from total economic collapse.
The state treasurer is making noise right now about this would “deencentivize” people from working, but that’s a strange argument as well as insulting.
It’s more likely that people willing to live in abject poverty just to get Medicaid are the ones who was being given an incentive to keep their incomes low. Let’s erase that income barrier so there’s a reason to earn more.

We’ve used the word “They” throughout this endorsement, but it could just as easily be “we.”
According to MarketWatch, Depending on the (Nielsen )survey, the number of people living paycheck to paycheck runs from half of workers making under $50,000 to 74% of all employees (per recent reports from both the American Payroll Association and the National Endowment for Financial Education.)
And almost three in 10 adults have no emergency savings at all, according to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index.
So this is not about “They” - it’s about us.
Platte County Question - Parks and Stormwater
“Shall the County of Platte, Missouri, impose a renewal of the existing county-wide sales tax at the reduced rate of one-quarter of one percent (0.0025) on all retail sales made in the County for the purpose of providing dedicated funding for local parks and storm water control for the County for a period of ten (10) years?”
We say Yes.
We have all benefitted from the Parks half cent sales tax in place for the past 20 years. Having a dedicated tax for parks and storm water projects meant that was all it could fund. Several attempts were made to divert money for other uses, and they were beaten back.
These two questions, Parks and Law Enforcement, can be considered a compromise between the supports of each or both.
The half cent sales tax that was charged for parks in the past, has been split into a quarter cent for parks and quarter cent for Law Enforcement
If the Parks tax passes, there will still be money for the community outreach grants that have improved our city parks, for stormwater grants and projects vital to a county with our hilly terrain and watersheds, and to maintain and improve our county parks.
Question - Law Enforcement - Sheriff, Prosecutor & Courts
“Shall the County of Platte, Missouri, impose a countywide sales tax at the rate of one-quarter of one percent (0.0025) on all retail sales made in the County for the purpose of providing dedicated funding for the operation of Platte County law enforcement for a period of ten (10) years? The proceeds of this sales tax shall not be used for construction of a new jail facility.”
Yes
A major reason is that now the Sheriff’s Department is a training ground for other, better-funded cities and counties around us. We train deputies and support staff like dispatchers, then they’re hired away.
We’re spending thousands on each person, only to have them leave so they can earn a better living wage.
If the level being collected before the pandemic holds, that will put $4.5 million into a fund for law enforcement purposes only.
But realize, that will be split between the Sheriff’s Department, County Prosecutor and the Circuit Court. They are all lumped together under the umbrella designation of Law Enforcement.
The money won’t be used for a new jail, but it could free up some money in the general revenue fund for badly needed repairs (leaky roofs, anyone?).
Some years away, Platte County is expected to need space for another courtroom, and the Prosecutor is itching for more space and better pay for his staff.
It will be up to all of us to watch how the county commissioners budget the general revenue in the future so this tax money actually does supplement  law enforcement purposes most needed.
Still, it’s the Sheriff’s Department that is expected to benefit the most from this increase.
The department runs the jail. It has road patrol officers who give lots of tickets, but also work accidents all over the county. They respond when cities need more help, and get help in return from city officers.
They investigate a growing number of serious, violent crimes. Bailiffs keep order in the court rooms.
Detectives hunt down cyber-criminals, including those who try to hurt children.
It’s a large department with many different, some high-technical, jobs.
The Platte County Sheriff’s Department enjoys a good reputation with the public and other area law enforcement agencies because they look for and hire the best officers  and staff they can find.
We will deserve these fine people if we support them. If not, well, Kansas City, Missouri, North Kansas City, Riverside and even some Kansas Communities are waiting for them.

Below is an excerpt from Beth's editorial from this week.  The entire editorial may be found in this week's print copy of the Weston Chronicle or online here.

NO COMMENT by
Beth McPherson, Editor
Weston • Platte County • Missouri