Editor's note: The following letter was written to U.S. Rep. JoAnn Emerson (R-Mo.).
As a constituent of rural Southeast Missouri, and although a Democrat, I have been a supporter of you and your prior husband's political principles as they exemplify the beliefs of everyone, Republican, Democrat or Independent, wealthy or poor.
However, after reading the article on the front page of the Standard Democrat newspaper on March 9, I must voice my concerns for my family and friends on the city, state and national level as the actions of lawmakers ultimately impacts us all.
The article and a related article suggests a multimillion-dollar subsidy for public transportation (buses and airplanes) that you wish to endorse because it will help rural area constituents. Why endorse travel when funds are desperately needed for the maintenance of highways to travel on? I have read countless articles and heard comment from the Missouri Department of Transportation that needed work on Missouri roads have slowed or stopped due to lack of state funding/no funding available.
Let us not put more irons in the fire until other issues are resolved. If we can come up with $35 million to subsidize Greyhound, give it instead to fix our roads. Subsidies to rail and airlines should be decreased or phased out and reapportioned to agencies that can really serve the elderly and poor population. What purpose is the intention of the subsidy proposal - leisure or medical?
The related article quoted Greyhound authorities that two of 10 passengers make $50,000 or more per year. If within their budgets, they can afford the rate of passage. My estimated gross income is far less and I am a single mother supporting a child in college. (We don't qualify for any type of assistance.) I might afford the rate of passage, but if not, I don't need to go anywhere. However, it's not within my budget, so we choose leisure travel that is within our budget. We make concessions with ourselves.
Other rural constituents, who must travel due to a need for medical care within a metropolitan city and can't afford travel, usually have Medicaid. Medicaid allows the use of transit services (Medicaid transportation has an 800 number from St. Louis), which also reimburses their gas use if travel is by any personal vehicle. Where lies the problem of public transportation? What will be hidden in small print to the subsidy?
P.S.: Just last month the East Prairie Eagle newspaper published an article about Sen. Kit Bond and Emerson securing a $50,000 grant for Southeast Missouri Transit Service (SMTS), available transit service for rural Missouri elderly and poor.