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Sunday I attended a workshop about the Missouri state budget at Faith Des Peres Presbyterian Church in an upscale St. Louis suburb.  The program was offered by members of the church and staffers from Metropolitan Congregations United of St. Louis and the Missouri Budget Project.  It involved asking ourselves what is “sacred” to us and how our values are reflected in the way we would divide up the revenue available for the state budget.  We did the “penny exercise” which forced us to make what politicians call “the hard choices.”

At the end of the session, David Gerth of MCU-StL asked those in attendance if they would come back to the church on August 24th at 5p.m. to meet with Sen. Lamping who represents the 7th Senatorial District.  I don’t know anything about Sen. Lamping, and I don’t live in St. Louis County, so I didn’t sign up.  But many others did.  They will meet beforehand and prepare their questions and comments for the senator. Our workshop group came to the conclusion that the state needs more revenue.  Here’s a shocker – at least to me.

The Missouri budget has declined every year since 2000, and, at the current rate of economic growth in the state, it will be 2016 before we are back to the revenue level we had in 2008.   Ruth Ehresman of the Mo Budget Project did a wonderful job of “show and tell” using props to explain what’s wrong with the policy decisions that have been made in recent years.

I think it’s wonderful that mainline faith communities are getting involved in talking to their reps and senators.  I’ve been wishing they would come out of hiding for years.  

I hope they are able to “move” some Republicans closer to decision making that reflects the care and concern for Missourians that the state motto calls for.

BUT………….

I don’t think the good hearted people who want to have a reasonable discussion with ultra conservative extremists in our state legislature realize what they are up against.

I have been harping on the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council for months now, and national media outlets are finally exposing them and their insidious attempt to dismantle the programs that hold communities together and keep families from extreme poverty.

I really do hope the meetings with state senators by members of the various faith communities helps educate the senators about the damage their votes are causing.  I will network with friends in various churches and synagogues and ask them to invite MCU and Mo Budget Project folks to do this workshop in more places.   AND I’m going to keep reminding people that ALEC is out to destroy the country it took us 200 years of progressive change to build.