Schaefer will continue fighting for higher education
The state senate’s most important task is deciding the state budget.
Nov. 07, 2012
State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-District 19, has been re-elected for a second term.
The 19th District’s state senate election was a race between Schaefer, the incumbent, and State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia.
The state Senate election is the most important election for students, said Trey Sprick, president of Tigers Against Partisan Politics.
“The state Senate race is as local of a candidate as you’re going to get to represent you now on a more-than-local level,” he said.
MU is in the 19th District, which was redistricted in 2012 to include Cooper County, replacing Randolph County. Boone County is still included in the district.
With Schaefer’s re-election, he will continue representing the 19th district as he has since his 2008 election.
The biggest impact Schaefer and the state legislature has lies in setting the state budget, Boone County Democrats Chairman Homer Page said. Sprick said one of the biggest parts of that budget is higher education funding.
“We’ve seen, over the 10 years I’ve been here, significant cuts in state support for the institution (MU),” political science professor Marvin Overby said.
These cuts in state funding have to be made up somewhere, either by cutting programs or raising tuition, Overby said. For Missouri’s Republican-dominated state Senate, spending cuts are often promoted. Often, in order to manage the budget, spending cuts are made in education, he said.
Schaefer is not afraid to break with his party, however. Overby described him as a moderate Republican — not a lockstep, partisan politician.
“Schaefer has been more supportive of higher education than most Republicans,” he said. “I think he will continue to do a reasonably good job in representing the university by trying to protect the university’s interests in terms of the state budget.”
Schaefer exhibited bipartisanship by working with Democratic State Rep. Chris Kelly to fight the 12.5 percent MU funding cuts Gov. Jay Nixon proposed last year, Schaefer said in a debate in early October.
Schaefer’s bipartisan efforts have had a greater effect than Still’s, said Bruce Cornett, chairman of the Boone County Republican Central Committee.
Schaefer is the chairman of the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees Missouri’s state budget. This role, as well as having experience in the state senate, has made him more influential, Cornett said.
Although Schaefer has represented MU when faced with funding cuts, he does not match Still’s ability to represent MU’s female population, Page said.
“Mary Still (was) a stronger candidate in representing women’s rights and women’s health,” he said.
Still was a vocal advocate for women’s reproductive health rights when Rep. Todd Akin made his controversial remarks about rape, according to the Columbia Missourian.
But Schaefer did not advocate for Akin’s views. Instead, Schaefer called Akin’s remarks barbaric and idiotic, according to The Columbia Tribune. Schaefer also worked for women’s rights when he sponsored a bill preventing rapists from seeking parental rights.
Schaefer’s re-election does impact the Missouri Senate’s relationship with the national government.
“There are federal mandates pushing expenses on the state,” Cornett said. “The most important thing is how (the state senate) resists that.”
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act is one piece of national legislation that could suffer, Page said.
“(Its implementation) could be made more difficult. Missouri could add to other states trying to block it,” he said.
Although the state Senate partakes in the state budget, women’s rights and the implementation of national legislation, Schaefer’s re-election might not be vital or detrimental to the state Senate.
“I’m not sure that any individual senator is going to have a whole lot of influence,” Overby said.
Ultimately, the biggest difference Schaefer will make is adding to the decisions the state Senate makes collectively, Overby said.