Kansas City Star. April 6, 2022.
Editorial: Border war over Chiefs, Royals stadiums won’t help anyone — but might gouge taxpayers
The last thing this region needs is a costly bidding war over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Chances of just such a taxpayer-gouging battle grew this week when Gov. Mike Parson said Missouri “would compete with any state” that wants to provide a home for Kansas City’s NFL franchise.
How much would that cost? We have no idea. We know this governor opposed expanding Medicaid, and Missouri is still struggling to process applications for the service. For now, we’d prefer he stick to protecting the health, safety and education of Missourians — and providing the funds to do so.
At some point, though, the governor and the Missouri legislature will become more seriously involved in discussions surrounding the Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals, the Major League Baseball club that apparently wants a new downtown stadium. When that time comes, we expect all sides to approach the conversation with a keen eye on what taxpayers can afford, and what the teams can do for themselves.
Stadiums are very, very expensive. The new Buffalo football stadium, smaller than the Chiefs’ current facility, will cost $1.4 billion, with $850 million coming from taxpayers. The new baseball stadium in Arlington, Texas, cost more than $1 billion.
New stadiums for both the Chiefs and Royals could easily cost $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
It isn’t fair to ask Jackson Countians to bear that entire burden. Jackson County has already paid for the 2006 renovations at the Truman Sports Complex. They shouldn’t be asked to come up with more money for new homes for both clubs, particularly since fans come from both sides of the state line.
That’s where Missouri and Kansas can play a role. Missouri provided tax credits for the 2006 renovation, and similar support would be helpful as these discussions continue. Sports teams do help the state’s economy, although the specific impact is more limited than most realize.
Missouri also spends $3 million annually for upkeep at the stadiums.
Kansas is a more interesting matter. Gov. Laura Kelly recently said she was interested in the potential relocation of the club, and lawmakers are mulling a plan to set aside a portion of potential sports gambling revenue for stadium costs.
This is an important idea. Kansans have largely avoided direct subsidies of the Chiefs and the Royals for decades. Now, perhaps, there’s an understanding that they should be on the hook for these community assets in some way.
But that support shouldn’t depend on the physical location of either team. That was and is the idea behind the bistate sales tax, which could still be used as a vehicle for stadium financing. Local leaders on both sides of the state line should give this idea serious consideration.
What they should not do is engage in a costly, meaningless competition to provide even more subsidies for stadiums in either state. Imagine what Kansas and Missouri could accomplish through cooperation, instead of competition.
A regional approach to supporting regional amenities should be a top goal of both states. If that means one stadium in Kansas, and another in Missouri, so be it. If it means both stadiums in Missouri, Kansas should still be willing to help out. And, of course, vice versa.
If it means rehabbing the Truman Sports Complex, both states should be involved
The future of the Chiefs and Royals will occupy much of the public discussion space for years to come. Let’s set some markers for the outlines of those talks:
▪ The teams should commit to substantial investment in their facilities.
▪ They should commit to long-term lease agreements.
▪ The public tax burden must be low as possible, and fair.
▪ Both Missouri and Kansas should be a part of any solution.
The region faces a generational decision. We should make it after careful thought, quiet discussion — and a commitment to be fair to every taxpayer.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch. April 9, 2022.
Editorial: Raising Missouri teacher pay is essential to building a prepared workforce
There appears to be a healthy wave of bipartisan support within the Legislature to boost the pay of public school teachers, and Missourians should do everything in their power to encourage lawmakers along this path. The state’s future depends on having well-educated kids who perform at grade level, head to college or technical school well grounded in the basics, and enter the workforce prepared for the demands their future employers put on them.
It all starts by attracting talented and highly motivated teachers whose salaries reflect the extraordinary demands placed upon them. For too long, the misguided mentality in Jefferson City, and probably among the general population, is that teachers somehow enjoy a cushy lifestyle in which they only work the few hours a day and then get the whole summer off.
Any teacher can quickly offer a reality check. The school day typically involves back-to-back classes that often don’t allow for bathroom breaks, much less time for lunch. There are student emotional crises, or helping a kid whose homelife requires counseling. If a student lacks supplies, the teacher often covers the expense out of her or his own wallet. There’s a barrage of self-assessment work, online training, administrative meetings and other demands that suck up any extra minutes of the day that aren’t occupied by classroom instruction.
Phoning parents, grading tests and written work from students, then entering student data into the school computer system, often are tasks that occur on the living room sofa or dining room table at home, long after the school day has ended — along with juggling the teacher’s own family demands.
And for all this, the starting pay in Missouri is a miserly $25,000 to $32,900 a year — among the lowest in the country. Given the actual hours they put in, Missouri teachers barely clear poverty-level wages, which is why the state is having such a hard time recruiting new teachers and retaining existing ones.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson argues that the starting salary should be closer to $38,000. And there’s a surprising surge of agreement among Republicans who dominate the Legislature. Yet some argue there are better uses for the state’s nearly $3 billion surplus. They need to listen to Republican lawmakers like state Sen. Elaine Gannon of DeSoto, a former teacher who recognizes that the current pay scale is not a survivable wage. “A lot of our teachers are out there hustling with second jobs on the weekends,” she says.
If Republican skeptics aren’t convinced, perhaps they should look at business surveys in which employers repeatedly complain about the lack of skills and preparation among Missouri high school graduates.
The state cannot hope to attract employers and grow the economy unless it can offer employers a well-prepared, educated workforce. It all starts with motivated, high-quality teachers attracted by salaries that convey the message: Missouri appreciates all that you do.
Jefferson City News Tribune. April 10, 2022.
Editorial: Missouri Senate must preserve House’s fiscal responsibility
Missouri lawmakers were given a proposed budget about one-third larger than the current budget.
Like we said in a previous editorial, it gave Gov. Mike Parson the rare opportunity to play Santa Claus in his proposed budget — freely handing out gifts through programs and budget increases to all segments of the population.
Our state has had a windfall of federal money from the pandemic, yet House Republicans this past week still had to fend off Democratic attempts to spend more money.
The House on Tuesday gave first-round approval to a $46.2 billion budget. But it was after repeated efforts from Democrats to tap into the state’s surplus, according to a story we published by The Missouri Independent.
The budget already has increases for things such as Medicaid expansion and higher education.
But House Democrats tried repeatedly to tap the state’s revenue surplus, estimated at about $1.8 billion.
Fortunately, a House rule requires representatives who propose budget increases to “fund” their increases by cutting the budget elsewhere.
“House Democratic Leader Crystal Quade, of Springfield, tried in vain to convince the House to suspend that rule and use a portion of the surplus,” the Independent reported.
Her argument: “If you think senators aren’t going to spend that money, you must be new here.”
So, since we can expect irresponsible spending by the upper chamber, we might as well do it too.
“You are going to hear consistently from the other side of the aisle that we are not spending enough money,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, in the story.
During the debate, one Democrat, Rep. Peter Merideth, of St. Louis, ranking Democrat on the budget committee, tried repeatedly to tap the general revenue surplus without finding cuts elsewhere, the news source reported.
It said he tried to spend $100 million to give schools grants for increasing teacher pay, add $215 million to school transportation needs and provide more than $100 million more for state colleges and universities.
St. Louis Public Radio reported: “While the House’s version of the budget increased from $46.1 billion to $46.5 billion between Tuesday and Thursday, House Democrats voted against many of the budget bills, saying much more could be spent considering the state currently has record general revenue and billions of federal dollars to spend.”
Fortunately, Republicans stayed strong, repelling most attempts at adding to the already bloated budget.
We’re not saying the proposed additional spending doesn’t have merit and won’t do good things. What we are saying is that having a healthy surplus fund is a good thing. At some point, our state will need it — our federal government’s massive deficit spending and debt will eventually catch up to us.
We ask the Senate to follow the House’s lead by holding the line on spending and leaving our state with a healthy surplus fund.
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