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Rowden: HB253 Vote Was Bad Public Policy, Mostly About Politics

Representative Caleb Rowden recently admitted what we already knew -- his decision to ignore educators and experts in his district and vote for Rex Sinquefield's HB253 tax scheme was a bad idea. He even confessed that his decision to vote for HB 253 was about politics. In an interview with Missourinet's Bob Priddy, Take a look: 

Here's the key exchange:

PRIDDY: Can the state afford to cut taxes?

ROWDEN: I think we can. I think probably, you know the House Bill 253 discussion got so political so quickly. The Governor really embraced it on his side and so I think we felt like we needed to embrace it on our side.  

And I think it goes back to--I  don't know if HB 253 was the right answer to the question, but I do think there is probably some mechanism out there in which we can provide some relief for folks. I would like to have seen in House Bill 253, and if I'm working on something, I really would like to focus on trying to find a way to cut taxes for middle class folks, because the reality of how tax cuts shake out is that middle class folks, you know, if they get a $600 or $700 break in a years time they're going to invest that back in the economy because they don't have a lot of extra money to be investing in things like that. I think you have to look at it a little more pragmatically maybe than we were allowed to look at it during 253 because of how that discussion shook out. I think we can afford to do it. I don't that it needs to be a top priority.

Rowden is right. HB 253 was the wrong answer to every question, except 'How do I make Rex happy?" It was hopelessly skewed towards the lobbyist and law class, and would have forced massive cuts in state spending on critical services like education and public safety. If only Rowden had the political courage to vote his conscience instead of with his party bosses and special interests.

Not taking strong stands for his constituents is becoming something of a pattern for Rowden in his short political career. 

In September on the eve of the override vote, Rowden sat on stage with UM President System President Tim Wolfe and Mizzou Chancellor Brady Deaton as they explained how HB 253 would make attending college drastically more expensive and hurt Missouri’s economy. At the forum, Rowden weaseled out of telling students he was voting against them by claiming he didn’t have “all the numbers” he needed to make a decision on the bill. Clearly, Rowden has realized what a mistake he made by ignoring the cries of Missouri's education leaders and students and is now trying to rewrite history as he enters an election year.

Last April, Rowden was a profile in political cowardice as he skipped a vote on circuit breaker tax credits because he “just wasn’t comfortable with making a vote” and bucking Republican Budget Committee Chair Rick Stream.

Rowden was well-rewarded for his decision to side with special interests instead of average Missourians. Grow Missouri, the organization Rex Sinquefield formed and funded solely to push HB 253, paid Rowden back by contributing $500 to his campaign just two weeks after his vote to override Nixon’s veto.


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