Transit receives unprecedented federal funds; time for state to step up
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Nov. 5 by a vote of 228 to 206. It includes $550 billion in new spending for transit, roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure; incorporates the five-year transportation reauthorization bill; and provides an unprecedented investment in public transportation.
The package includes $39 billion to upgrade public transit systems nationwide. The allocations also provide money to create new bus routes and help make public transit more accessible to seniors and disabled Americans. According to the American Road and Transportation Builder Association, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide $7.82 billion in state formula funds for highway, bridge and transit investment in Missouri over the next five years. This includes a 32 percent funding increase compared to FY2021. Missouri is slated to get $674 million to improve public transportation, which includes allowing public transit providers to apply for funding to transition their fleets to zero-emission vehicles.
Federal funds are delivering — now, it’s time for the state to set up. Despite transit contributing more than $3 billion to the state’s bottom line annually and ensuring transportation accessibility to nearly everyone in every county, every day — Missouri continues to rank 45th in the nation with regards to transit investment. In fact, state funding has remained stagnant since 2018. Any increase could exponentially change the game on economic returns. The state needs to get back on track. Increased transit investment is a must for 2021.
Kimberly Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit and the Missouri Public Transit Association
Springfield city government needs to take action on climate change
The members of the First Unitarian Universalist Humanist group strongly urge City Council of Springfield to proclaim its concern for dealing with climate change and take action to prepare the city for the coming challenges.
The scientific evidence is overwhelming to demonstrate the impact of heat-trapping pollution from the use of fossil fuels. We commend City Utilities as it moves from the fuels of the past to the energy sources of the future while also promoting efficient use of water and energy. It is imperative that Springfield city government set complementary goals and take actions similar to those in Kansas City and St. Louis. Springfield and its citizens have taken a leadership role as the Queen City of the Ozarks in business, health care and education. Now, the city of Springfield can play its part in mitigating the impacts of climate change.
It is past time for the council and the citizens of Springfield and the Ozarks to step up. It is imperative that we act for the sake of our communities, businesses and future generations.
Don Underwood, First Unitarian Universalist Humanists – Springfield
Medicare needs fewer restrictions so it can serve people better
The Build Back Better (BBB) legislation is bringing the topic of Medicare to the forefront. Congress allowed private carriers to start the Medicare Advantage plans to compete with Medicare. BBB wants Medicare to include dental, hearing and vision coverage. Seems logical because Congress allows Medicare Advantage plans to cover — with us taxpayers paying extra for them. Why not Medicare?
Next, we have the unbelievable Medicare Prescription law. The law forbids Medicare from negotiating prices for drugs. Big Pharma can price gouge all they want. They claim they will not be able to develop new drugs without the money. Facts: Medicaid and the Veterans Administration have negotiated for years. Even the private carriers can negotiate. And of course, foreign countries pay less than half of what Americans pay.
If you want to protect senior family members and your taxes, tell your legislators.
Martin Walsh, Glendale
Roman Catholics in Congress should take action against factory farming
I understand that Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against factory farming, saying in a 2002 interview that it seems to “contradict the mutuality that comes across in the Bible.” We should write to President Biden and to Roman Catholics in Congress, e.g. Speaker Pelosi, that since they are good Roman Catholics, they should sponsor legislation against the overcrowding/confinement and overgrowth of factory farming.
Alvin Blake, Springfield
Holiday cheer requested
This year, more than any other in a long time, our community and country is in dire need of a big, bright, bold and beautiful holiday season.
Our American society has suffered for over 18 months from the virus, political rhetoric and civil unrest; we need a time to refocus on what is important in life, an enlightening time to heal our country.
You need not be a believer to celebrate the Christmas holiday season. I am not one, but it is something that brings smiles and good cheer to yourself and the people around you.
It is a giving time of the year when we are allowed to unleash the kindness and generosity of our hearts to our neighbors in need.
Mangers or religious décor is not required — lights, garland, wreaths and other secular holiday ornaments will do just as well.
Today’s society seems to be filled with gloom, division and negativity; we as Americans need to find a positive and shining way of life for the world to see and be inspired by.
Homes and businesses alike need to be big, bright and bold this holiday season so that anyone driving around our community can get a sense of wonder for the holiday that lights up our hearts as it did when we were children.
This year, the responsibility falls upon us all to be big, bright and bold for the Christmas holiday in whatever way we can.
Mark R. Davis, Springfield, former member of the Springfield New-Leader editorial advisory board
Congress should seize opportunity for bipartisan end to Electoral College
After three disputed presidential elections in just 20 years, it is time America elected presidents by popular vote. The Electoral College allows the losing candidate to override the voice of the people.
In 1787, the presidential election was in question. Months of debate resulted. Some wanted Congress to choose the president — chummy corruption — and others insisted on popular vote. Weary lawmakers decided to pacify states with large nonvoting Black populations with a political workaround for the persistence of slavery, the Electoral College. It was to have the same number of temporary electors, chosen every four years, as Congress had representatives.
The Electoral College was cobbled up assuming electors would vote their own discretion, but today they are required to support their party’s candidate. The first candidate to get 270 of the 538 votes wins the White House, allowing the losing candidate to override the popular vote — a subversion of democracy.
The Electoral College was a flawed, racially motivated, quick fix bandage that should have been eliminated when African Americans gained the right to vote.
In January of this year, 147 Republicans voted to overthrow the 2020 presidential election, refusing to support Electoral College votes in the House and instead supporting the January 6 coup attempt. Thomas Jefferson cautioned that corruption would result in another tyrannical despot and could destroy democracy.
Since Republicans no longer support the Electoral College, now is the time for bipartisan action to end it. It requires a 2/3 supermajority in Congress plus ratification by 3/4 of the states. It must be eliminated before 2024 so it cannot again be used in an attempt to destabilize democracy in favor of autocracy. Thomas Jefferson also told us that resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.
Jan Lancaster, Springfield
AG uses office to promote right-wing agenda
Eric Schmitt, our attorney general, is currently running for U.S. senator. Trouble is, he is using his office, and our tax dollars, to promote a right-wing agenda. In November 2020, he led 10 other state attorneys general in a lawsuit against Pennsylvania, claiming voter fraud related to mail ballots. This action was denied by the courts, but contributed to the “Stop the Steal” narrative, which ultimately spurred the January 6 Capitol riot, or “unauthorized tour” if you prefer. This was followed by his mask mandate lawsuits this year against St. Louis, the Columbia school district and Jackson County, which includes Kansas City. These suits are in the court system currently. Now he’s suing Springfield Public Schools concerning Critical Race Theory (CRT) in employee training. SPS has asked for reimbursement for the cost of producing all the documents requested, but Mr. Schmitt claims that is an excuse to not reveal the documents.
All these actions taken by the AG are politically motivated rather than in the best interest of all Missourians. They have and will cost all the entities mentioned above millions of dollars to defend themselves. They are anti-science, anti-truth and antithetical to the ideals of fiscal responsibility and good government. His actions only serve to divide Missourians, waste our tax dollars, and burnish his image with his base.
Bob Grand, Springfield
Credit: Source link