Like a football player doing his victory dance before he gets into the end zone, republican sate Senator Jim Lembke gloated "I won" after reaching a deal with other republican senators to end his filibuster preventing Missouri from receiving federal funds for unemployment benefits. The Missouri House and Senate have yet to vote on the proposal and Governor Jay Nixon has not said if he accepts the terms of the deal. It's a bad deal and Gov. Nixon should slap the ball out of Lembke's hands and say "Not so fast."
Under the deal Sen. Lembke, R-Lemay, and his allies would end their pointless filibuster against the $105 million in unemployment funds in exchanger for eliminating $250 million in federal funds that the state has already accepted for other programs. It would also reduce future state unemployment benefits form 26 weeks to 20 weeks, that change would be permanent. It would essentially trade a one time boost in unemployment benefits for a permanent reduction in Missouri's unemployment compensation program. It would be a little like agreeing to pay a ransom for your oldest child by paying a million dollars and giving up your youngest child. Unemployed Missourians would pay the price of this deal for decades to come. The price is just too high and the Governor should reject this offer.
Gov. Nixon also needs to keep in mind that Lembke and Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, are also filibustering to block $189 million in federal education funds. If Nixon caves in to Lembke's demands on the unemployment aid, just imagine what his demands will be on education fundingwill be. Will he demand a permanent reduction in Missouri's education spending?
Democrats have already paid a pound of flesh for these unemployment funds. In December of last year President Obama and U.S. Senate democrats agreed to huge budget busting tax cuts for the rich in exchange for republican approval of the unemployment funds, and now state republicans are demanding more concessions? Enough!
If Gov. Nixon caves into these demands Sen. Lembke will be seen (and rightfully so) as one of the most powerful elected officials in Jefferson City. He will have out maneuvered his own party's leadership, the Governor and overruled the overwhelming majority of state legislators in both parties who just wanted to accept the money that had already been given to the state.
This is Gov. Nixon's moment of truth; will he stand up to Lembke and fight for what is right or will he crown Senator Lembke king of Missouri.