On Tuesday, Aug. 4, Missourians will go to the polls to vote. One of the issues we will be voting on is whether or not to expand Medicaid in the state -- Amendment 2.
If you have already decided to vote in favor, then there is nothing I can say that will change your mind and, if you are voting no, then I don't really need to say anything. It's the undecideds that need to read the rest of this.
I love my healthcare friends and I know they feel passionately about this. And from a financial standpoint, it makes sense to them. Instead of writing off the costs of services for people who can't pay them, the rest of the taxpayers will foot the bill.
They have all sorts of studies that show that, in the long run, this makes sense for society. But, when you vote on the fourth, understand the immediate ramifications of expanding Medicaid.
Missouri has a constitutional obligation to balance the budget. In other words, we cannot deficit spend like Illinois or California and just keep racking up unsustainable debts. In Missouri, at the end of the year, our expenses cannot exceed our revenues.
If we pay more on Medicaid, then there WILL be cuts in other areas of state spending. And, the only budget items large enough to pay for the increased spending is K-12 education and higher education. With the current pandemic, I don't think we can expect increased revenue, so that means that our educational institutions will see reduced state funding.
So, when you vote, understand exactly what that means. But, understand that you are making a conscious decision as to how you want Missouri to spend your money.
So, I wanted to get this in before the Aug. 4 primary so you can make an informed decision on Medicaid expansion. If you are voting without the facts, then you are not being responsible. I wanted to give you my perspective as a former legislator who had to vote on those tough budget decisions.
That's the crux of this week's column, but I'm going to take the rest of my space for personal comments. Melody and I became covid-19 statistics last week. We both tested positive for the virus. We are doing okay but sure hope that it doesn't decide to turn south as it has for many people.
I posted on Facebook that we had tested positive and would appreciate prayers and we were inundated with responses. It always humbles us the number of people who are willing to lift us up in prayer. We are blessed with family and friends that will do anything to help in times of need.
Of course, the last six years have been especially trying and we have relied on prayers to sustain us during the low points and to rejoice with us at the high points. I feel sorry for people who do not have that kind of support.
Now, more than ever, we need each other and we thank each and every one of you and just pray that we can repay you by being there when you need us.
Kevin Wilson is a former state representative who was born in Goodman and now lives in Neosho. Opinions expressed are those of the author.