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14 October 2010

Davis: Constitutional Amendment One

Questions on the November Ballot

Every election season constituents ask me about the non-candidate questions they will encounter on the voter-ballot.  If the question changes the state statutes, it is called a proposition.  If it changes the state constitution it called an amendment.  This November, we have two propositions and three constitutional amendments.  If you want to read the full ballot language here is a link to the ballot questions: November 2- Ballot Measures

However, my experience has been that even with the plain language summary there is a much more "behind-the-ballot" question.  In the next Capitol Report I will continue to explore the depths of the remaining ballot questions so you can make an informed choice when you vote November 2.

Constitutional Amendment #1

The purpose of having a charter form of government is so that each government entity can determine its own set of rules.  I like county charters because it allows the maximum amount of public input from citizens.

Amendment One forces all charter counties to elect its assessors.  I am not in favor of this amendment because it is good to allow counties to have local control. Some will vote for this because they believe that unless the state government forces its will upon the counties, the counties will hire assessors who might rip off the people. When the state demands counties elect its assessors, it removes some of the county's decision-making authority.  Most charter counties already elect the assessor.  If it were really causing a problem, why wouldn't the people change the county charter?

Here is one very special caveat:  Apparently, Jackson County doesn't want to elect its assessor, so it has a special carve-out.  Article 3, section 40-42 of the Missouri Constitution prohibits passing special legislation for just one city or county, therefore the amendment is written in a manner that defines the area being exempted by its population.  If this amendment passes -and long as Jackson County stays within a certain population bracket- that county will always be treated with a different set of rules than the rest of the state.

Here are a few questions to consider:
  1. Are the counties so irresponsible that the state government must force them to elect the assessors?
  2. What is so special about Jackson County that it deserves to be exempt?
  3. Which county is going to want to change the state constitution in the future to accommodate it alone?
  4. Why didn't we read any articles about how bad these appointed county assessors are?
St. Charles County has an elected assessor and its tax assessments are the highest in the entire state.  So passing additional restraints does not offer any assurance of lower taxes. On the other hand, some of the appointed assessors have the lowest taxation rates.

The problem is not the process; it's the philosophy of the assessor's office.  We are not going to fix our level of taxation by a new method of selecting the assessors.  When was the last time you heard a county assessor run by saying, "If you vote for me I will work to charge you the least amount possible!"?  A lot of people complain about how high their real estate taxes are, yet people typically vote for increases. Therein is the problem.

Your thoughts are important to me, so please let me know what you think about Missouri Constitutional Amendment One. You can send me your opinion by clicking here Cynthia Davis

Cynthia In The News

Last week I was published in World Net Daily.  Some of my most faithful readers know I have been working on marriage issues for many years. For an article to be published in a national publication, it must have value beyond the state of Missouri.  David Usher is a national figure who is joining me in this battle to lower the divorce rate and to create more justice in the divorce laws. For years he has worked toward finding practical solutions.  We collaborated to produce our best thoughts and information for this article and hope you enjoy hearing about why we must make an impact to reduce the divorce rate in America.

Marriage: America's greatest fiscal issue

Posted: October 07, 2010; 1:00 am Eastern
By David R. Usher and Missouri Rep. Cynthia Davis
[Link to Original Article]

Marriage is one of the five most important issues of the 2010 elections. It will remain a controlling factor in the American dilemma until some form of the "10 Marriage Policies to rebuild America" is enacted at federal and state levels.

Why? Marriage-absence is driving federal and state deficits. Health-care coverage, personal bankruptcy and home-loan defaults are infrequent problems for married couples. Children raised in intact families are the last to get in trouble, flunk out of school, join a gang, have babies, become chronic substance abusers, commit crimes, or grow up to be criminals.

Social spending is by far the largest line and fastest-growing item in federal and state budgets. Social spending does not put out fires, nor does it save the starfish. It buys another round of marriage-absence and deficits.

Consider Missouri, which is in much better shape than many other states, but typical in its spending priorities:

The direct cost of marriage-absence to taxpayers in Missouri is $1 billion to $1.5 billion per year. Missouri had 23,299divorces in 2009, each costing the state at least $18,000 per year, and as much as $27,600 annually, depending on the analysis applied. Out-of-wedlock births add another 33,543 cases at similar cost.

Marriage-absence is eating Missouri alive. Social services spending is the largest line item – at 32.7 percent of total spending – expenditures for which there is no good news to report.

In Missouri, social spending is 50 percent higher than spending on education. Schools are shortchanged and saddled with an impossible unfunded mandate – making up for what children lack not having both a mother and a father in the home. Under-parented children are predominantly the ones with aggravated behavior problems and low test scores. If most children came to school disciplined and ready to learn, schools and children would succeed – and so would America.

The cost of criminal interdiction arising from marriage-absence is alarming. Eighty-five percent of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. Improving marriage rates will translate into immediate and substantial reductions in spending on crime and prisons.

Many incorrectly assume that recent increases in poverty rates are primarily a result of today's high unemployment rates. Wrong. The "war on poverty" will be won only by improving marriage rates. When two adults support one household, high unemployment rates are far more survivable. The latest census income data prove the fact that unmarried households are the highest-risk group for poverty regardless of job availability. In good times or bad times, their incomes are only 35 percent to 67 percent of what married couples earn.

Missouri is facing a $1 billion deficit in 2012. If sensible marriage policy reduced illegitimacy and divorce by half (also happily resolving the greatest problems many Missourians face), it would today be running significant surpluses and could easily expect a balanced budget or surplus in 2012.

America would be a strong nation today had Ronald Reagan envisioned the need for trickle-down social policy interlocked with trickle-down economic policy. Both are required to create a strong economy and balanced federal and state budgets.

Welfare actively destroys marriage in economic downturns. Individuals divorce or simply cohabit to qualify for years of comparatively rich long-term welfare benefits, and then remain unemployed or underemployed for decades. The corrosive interaction between existing unemployment and welfare policy predicts today's record cohabitation and illegitimacy rates (and the deficits America is drowning in).

Eight years ago, James Q. Wilson pointed out the nexus between marriage, freedom and economic success: "The nation is becoming divided into two nations; not a nation of the rich and the poor, but a nation of the married and the unmarried bearing children. The effort of the United States to expand freedom and economic opportunity to everybody is now running up against this wall." Eight years later, we collided with the wall and wonder where our freedoms, economy and future went.

America is in sociopolitical economic meltdown. Our freedoms, economy, political and administrative systems and banking systems are crumbling. Everyone is desperately seeking answers, but nobody has yet mentioned the one answer addressing the majority of America's economic problems, human needs and dreams.

Republicans and tea partiers are hopeful that America can be restored solely by executing traditional conservative fiscal and constitutional ideals. Given the unquestionable hierarchy of America's contemporary problems, it is naïve to think we can avoid fiscal collapse or re-establish constitutional order unless we address the root problem.

"Marriage Values" policies created by the Center for Marriage Policy match precisely with core conservative and libertarian principles. Marriage naturally establishes and ensures the fundamental freedoms, rights and limited government that Republicans and tea partiers now demand.

"Marriage Values" is not a cultural debate, nor does it force anyone to marry. It marks the terminus of today's government-driven gender war, the war on marriage and the war on church first launched by Betty Friedan.

Marriage is the leading women's issue of the 21st century. Today, millions of unhappy welfare mothers must "do it all," live in poverty in unsafe streets while waiting for some politician in Washington to save them. We are confident that most women will prefer the many benefits Marriage Values policy offers.

We have one simple choice to make: Marriage or monstrous quongocratic government. All grass-roots organizations, conservatives, libertarians and tea partiers must focus on real policies that will rebuild America. Join with us in enacting the 10 Marriage Policies to rebuild America. The erosions of rights everyone is bemoaning, the high taxes we cannot afford and the deficits of monolithic helicopter government will naturally abate when marriage is restored as the social norm.

David R. Usher is president of the Center for Marriage Policy. Cynthia Davis is state representative for Missouri's 19th District.

A Little Bit of Humor

Two elderly Wal-Mart greeters were sitting on a bench at the entry way when one turns to the other and says,

"Slim, I'm 73 years old now and I'm just full of aches and pains. I know you're about my age. How do you feel?"

Slim says, "I feel just like a new-born baby."

"Really, Like a new-born baby?"

"Yep. No hair, no teeth and I think I just wet my pants."

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