|The Missouri Republican Tea Party wants to appear unrelenting in its zeal to reduce Missouri’s budget deficit, slashing left and right, except for agricultural loan programs. My colleague, State Senator Brian Munzlinger, R- Lewis County, like a lot of GOP legislators wants to cut government spending. But when you start talking about specifics, everyone kind of likes the status quo.
Senate Bill 161, sponsored by Sen.Munzlinger, which recently passed the Missouri Senate, is tailor made for agricultural corporations. The bill has a fiscal note of zero to unknown—meaning taxpayers have no idea how much this bill will cost. Taxpayers will be on the hook in the event of a default on a guaranteed loan. Since 1997 several of these types of loans have defaulted, costing the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars.
This proposed legislation would expand governments’ interference into private industry, by having the Missouri Value Added Loan Guarantee include loans made to agribusinesses and agriculture support businesses. Sound familiar? I thought that this was the purview of private banks rather than the government. Is this another government bailout of large agribusinesses? Maintaining some degree of consistency might help when one is looking to defend cuts to state programs in order to "decrease the size of government." Since we keep hearing about how important it is to reduce expenditures, why is it that I fail to see any proposals to limit agricultural subsidies? Why do fiscal conservatives support new government programs like this one created in SB 161?
It's hard to legitimately call yourself a fiscal conservative when you are a proponent of growing the size of state government with new loan programs. Until GOP legislators start following the principles espoused so often in their campaign rhetoric, we're doomed to political posturing on the budget, instead of substantive action.What better expression of hypocrisy can we find?
People always seem to vote for change but all they get are more of the same. We like to talk about fixing our state’s budget problem. But even more than that, we like to pad the pockets of corporations with money that Missouri and the working taxpayers—don’t have.
Commentary by Sen. Timothy Green, St. Louis (D-13)