JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As the ranks of Missouri’s Senate gains new members, some enter politics for the first time while others are seasoned veterans of the General Assembly and the chamber gained new leadership.
Sen. Dave Schatz has been elected by his colleagues to fill the void left by Sen. Ron Richard when he termed out. Speaking to his fellow senators for the first time as President Pro Tem, Schatz noted that the quality of the measures passed will be of focus.
“When I look back on this session, I will not measure our success by the quantity of legislation we pass but by the quality. We won’t measure ourselves by the number of days we spent here—but by the lives we positively impact,” said Schatz.
In a media availability, Schatz’s noted that the priorities for the session aren’t his personally, but rather the members of the caucus and the people they represent.
He noted that the chamber must work to reduce the burden of government by promoting reforms to our regulatory, tort, and tax systems to ensure Missouri can compete and win in the 21st century. Every elected official owes it to the people of Missouri to remain committed to great schools, good jobs, and safe communities.
Transportation infrastructure is a bipartisan priority that has no easy solution. In November 2018, voters rejected a motor fuel tax increase that would have gone to fund roads and bridges.
“I think we all understand the need for investment in infrastructure,” Schatz told the media. “There are creative things that can be done out there that will have to explore and look at. Having the voters reject Prop D was disappointing, but the problem is still there and we have to solve it. We are going to have to be creative.”
Schatz pledged to be fiscally responsible and pass a balanced budget while making sure that education and infrastructure “receive the investment they deserve.” He also said it was “unlikely” that the right-to-work proposals gain any traction this session.
Talk of making changes to Amendment 1 — the so-called Clean Missouri measure that made sweeping ethics changes — has come up often. Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden noted that the constitutional amendment needs some tweaks.
“I’m not questioning the intention of Clean Missouri. I think it was very poorly written. And I think we are going to have to come back and make some changes to it that aren’t designed to change the intent but to make it so that actually functionally does what the folks want it to do,” said the Senate Floor leader.
Throughout all of the issues, Schatz noted that it is important to remember why voters sent them to Jefferson City.
“We can disagree without being disagreeable—it’s a choice we must consciously make every day. The work we do here isn’t glamorous and it often attracts harsh and sometimes hurtful feedback—but it’s important work nevertheless,” said Schatz. “The faith our constituents have placed in us is immense—we have a responsibility to them to look beyond our differences and find common ground.”
Read Schatz opening remarks below:
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at email@example.com.