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25 August 2011

Kraus: Difficult Decisions Ahead

Each year, the legislators who represent you, whether at the city, state, or federal level, are faced with hundreds of votes. Those votes often have significant consequences for that government’s finances, vision, and for the well-being of its citizens. It would be nice if all those votes were specific to a certain issue and uncomplicated by multiple items and additions, but in many cases, that just doesn’t happen.

More often than not, these complicated pieces of legislation lead to very difficult votes for your legislators. You may know where a specific legislator stands on an issue, but will see him or her vote the opposite because language was tied to a bill that has another topic he or she strongly supports or does not support.

A good example is the bill we are about to debate in an upcoming special session in September. The bill is mostly an economic development bill designed to both create new economic opportunities, as well as rein in some economic development programs that have either gotten too large or are no longer needed.

Many of you know that I have strongly supported a revision of Missouri’s tax credit programs. I filed four bills this year to cap, eliminate, or sunset almost all of the existing 60 or more tax credit programs. Other senators were less interested in fixing the current tax credits, but instead had one new program they wanted to pass to incentivize development near the airport in St. Louis. Standing alone, I was against that program.

In the Senate, a compromise bill was drawn up which gave $300 million to the Aerotropolis project for St. Louis, while slashing other tax credit programs. It also provided job retention funds for the Kansas City region in order for that area to compete with Kansas. The entire bill saved taxpayers over $1.5 billion. I was one of 32 senators to vote for the bill; in my case, because the overall savings justified supporting a program I wouldn’t normally support.

While the bill passed the Senate, it did not pass the House in the same form and died in the final hours of session. A new compromise was reached over the summer and we will be debating the bill again during the special session in a few weeks. I can’t say what the final language will look like or how I will vote, but I will almost surely have a tough decision to make.

One thing is certain, as I have learned over the seven years I have served in Jefferson City – if you are unwilling to compromise, you quickly become irrelevant. That may be even truer in the Senate. While I would love to get everything I can for the constituents of the 8th District, sometimes compromise is needed to get the most important things accomplished.

Back to School

Access to the Internet is becoming more and more critical, especially in education. Programs to increase broadband availability are in process throughout the state. Still, a significant percentage of our population does not have Internet access, primarily due to lack of funds. For those in District 8 who are in an area served by Comcast, there is a potential solution. Comcast offers a program called Internet Essentials, which provides affordable Internet and even low-cost computers to low-income households. Partner programs are available for those wishing to help. You can find more information at, or by calling 1-855-8-INTERNET.

Upcoming Town Hall Meeting

I will be hosting a town hall meeting in Blue Springs with Rep. Jeanie Lauer. The town hall meeting will be held Thursday, September 29, at the Country Club in Blue Springs, 1600 NW Circle Drive, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. I look forward to seeing you.

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