JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Three proponents of Amendment 3 joined reports on a conference call to make a case voters to pass the Early Childhood Education and Health Care Amendment on Nov. 8.
Jane Dueker – a spokesperson for Vote Yes on 3 for Kids, joined outgoing Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City, and St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green to discuss what they called the biggest investment in children in decades. They also used the opportunity to attempt to counter groups that had come out against the proposal.
Dueker said she understood why some health groups like the American Cancer Society – Cancer Action Network felt the ballot measure was not high enough to merit their endorsement. However, she said that alternatives in the past had not succeeded. 2012’s Proposition B, another cigarette tax, failed by about 2 percent.
“I understand they want to do it their way, and I get that they wanted a higher tax,” Dueker said. “But they tried that in 2012 and it didn’t work.”
Green, who worked in early childhood education before getting into politics, said that interest groups representing small tobacco manufacturers and convenience stores among others
“The argument has been a little bit lopsided in the media in terms of big tobacco is behind [Amendment 3]… and we’re negating the fact there are some very powerful special interests on the opposing side and all of these industries benefit from keeping a low tobacco tax,” she said.
LaFaver also expressed his frustration that the groups opposing the ballot measure for language which forbids the funds from being used in embryonic stem cell research or abortions. He says that the state budget and economic development bills often get the same language added to them by the Missouri Legislature, but he hears nothing from groups that have been vocally opposed to Amendment 3 during this campaign season.
“I have yet to see Missouri Cures or Washington University or the American Heart or Cancer Society or any of these groups… demand the governor veto the state budget,” LaFaver said. “Why are they so opposed to this when they’ve seen this exact language included in literally every budget?”
In the end, Dueker said the “lockbox” language that has angered so many organizations that will not get access to the money is necessary to invest in a state that has fallen behind its neighbors in educating preschool-aged children.
“Our kids need an endowment,” she said plainly, adding that she valued the goals of many of the organizations that had opposed Amendment 3. “These are all causes that a lot of Missourians really support and we shouldn’t pit them against each other.”
Their press conference came as a final push of leaders and organizations across the state attempt to get Amendment 3 into the constitution. Just over a week ago, the Associated Industries of Missouri came out in favor of the ballot measure, and this week the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis also announced their support.
Mayors Francis Slay and Sly James of St. Louis and Kansas City also support the ballot measure.
Rev Starsky Wilson joins KC Mayor Sly James and me in supporting Amendment 3. #fgs
— MayorSlay.com (@MayorSlay) November 2, 2016