January 19 Newsletter

Happy New Year! We here at Muslims for a Better America hope the January Edition of the MBA Newsletter finds you well. We hope you stocked up on enough bread and milk to enjoy the next snowpocalypse of the year!

This edition of the Newsletter will include information on Governor Parson's State of the State and his legislative priorities; an update on local Muslims running for office; and news about Muslims from across the country. 


To help sustain MBA's efforts this year, the Board of Directors would like to invite you to a fundraising brunch at Kababish Restaurant!

What: MBA Fundraiser and 2020 Voter Registration Strategic Plan
Where: Kababish Restaurant, 17 Nationalway Shopping Ctr, Ballwin, MO, 63011 (Phone: 636-220-3134)
When: Sunday, February 10, 11:30AM - 1:30PM 
RSVP: (1) Online at our website here (2) Emailing saad@mbamissouri.com (3) Calling 314-462-2753

Join us to learn more about how MBA plans on dramatically increasing the local Muslim voter registration rate this year and next. Can't make it to the fundraiser but still want to support MBA? This year, we are pushing for more sustaining members who make a long term commitment to help better our community. 

1. You can donate via credit card here

2. You can also fill out and either mail or e-mail this authorization form to directly debit your bank account to avoid the service fee

Muslim Women Lead the Way

This April, St. Louis County voters will be seeing 2 Muslim women on their ballots for School Board. Azra Ahmad (left) is running for Rockwood School Board and Farida Ahsan is running in the Parkway School District. MBA does not endorse candidates and will not be campaigning for either candidate, but we are very happy to see that leaders in our community are deciding to put in the work to represent us. We appreciate their efforts and sacrifice! 

Brunch is on Us!

State of the State

On Wednesday the 16th, Governor Mike Parson addressed the Missouri Legislature for the second time since he took office. This address, the State of the State, outlines the Governor's proposed $29.8 billion budget and his legislative priorities for the new year. Governor Parson spoke about many different things but he made it clear that his priorities for this year are infrastructure and work force development. Let's take a look at first these two and other topics he covered during his address:

Infrastructure

In November 2018, voters did not pass an increase to Missouri's gas tax. The funds were set to be used to for improvement projects that experts say are necessary to keep infrastructure stable. Governor Parson's administration has borrowed $350 million in bonds proceeds to immediately begin work on the repair of 250 smaller bridges across the state. The Governor proposes paying for the bonds over 15 years in $30 million increments using general revenue. To move forward with this, the legislature must pass a bill directing the money to be used in this manner.

Parson also set aside $50 million in state funds for a cost-sharing program dedicated to improving local roads that provide economic benefit. 

Workforce Development

Governor Parson is allocating quite a bit of money to focus on developing Missouri's workforce. $10 million is allocated for a program that trains for "modern" workforces; $16 million is allocated for career readiness training at colleges/universities; $22 million will be given to a program that will allow those in households making less than $80,000 annually to get up to 100% tuition reimbursement if they enroll in programs that produce high-demand jobs, like nursing. This program is estimated to allow an additional 16,000 students to attend vocational schools. 

Revenue Projections

Parson's budget proposal assumes a 2% increase in revenue collections for the next fiscal year. His budget does not seem to address the fact that tax cuts passed in 2014 and another set passed last year will significantly drop revenue collections over the next few years. Governor Parson's budget calls for no new taxes, no increases, and no revenue collected from online sales taxes or sports betting. His budget pays for all of his proposals by primarily cutting healthcare spending for the poor. This cut in spending is due to about 100,000 Missourians getting off the subsidized healthcare rolls resulting in a $50 million drop in the program. Budget Director Dan Haug believes that less people are using this service because of the improving economy. 

Education

Parson will be allocating a $61.4 million increase in general funding for the K-12 system which will allow the state to fully fund education, which is required by law. The budget keeps funding for higher education constant, which is a decidedly different tone than former Governor Greitens who slashed about $70 million in funding for the state's colleges and universities. 

Department of Corrections

After the September riot at the maximum-security Crossroads Prison in Cameron, the administration is closing down the prison and consolidating staff and inmates with nearby Western Missouri Correctional facility. This move will save $15 million in state funds and results in no layoffs. Missouri's inmate population has been steadily declining since September 2017 and the state is finding it more and more difficult to staff and fund Missouri's many correctional facilities. As Governor Parson stated, however, he is "not interested in building new prisons" which indicates his administration's commitment to keeping recidivism and crime rates low. 

Miscellaneous 

In an effort to cut wasteful government spending, Governor Parson is planning on cutting 430 government positions through the process of attrition. He will also be allocating money for a 3% cost-of-living pay raise for all state employees which will take effect January 2020. 

For the first time in many years, the Governor has left unspent about $117 million in the budget which he has earmarked to a special fund to be used only in the case of any "future budget emergencies". 

News from Across the Country

Tarrant County Republicans vote 139-49 to reject the effort to oust its Vice Chairman, Dr. Shahid Shafi. The claims that Shafi was more loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood than America still have no evidence to back them up. 

Congratulations to the Salam Clinic, which has been operated by Muslim doctors since 2008, on being awarded the Malachi Interfaith Award. The clinic provides free services to the underserved in the North St. Louis area. 
Jenan Ayesh was attacked in Dallas over New Years Weekend for wearing a headscarf. CAIR is calling for a full on hate-crime investigation. 
St. Louis Muslim nonprofit Project Downtown STL collaborates with area Diaper Bank to provide clean diapers for those in need.
As the government shutdown looms, our National Parks remain neglected. A Muslim youth group decided to do something about that.