Why Do We Care About Amendment 3?

Amendment 3 purports to fund early childhood education and health programs with proceeds from an increase in the state tax on cigarettes (Missouri’s is lowest in the country). Opposition to Amendment 3 is widespread, including both gubernatorial candidates, a bipartisan majority of the state legislature, and the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, Missouri Cures, the National Education Association, and many others.

But why does AU care?

Amendment 3 would carve out a loophole in our state constitution’s ban on providing aid to religious schools with public funds. By creating an exemption to Article IX, Section 8 of the Missouri Constitution, Amendment 3 could result in sending public funds to private, religious schools.

Amendment 3 would establish a permanent “Early Childhood Commission” that must include an appointed representative of the “faith community” (which is undefined). The Commission would be responsible for distributing millions of dollars of tax money and because the Amendment also creates a constitutional loophole, recipients could include religious organizations.

The measure does not specify how these public funds will be used and provides no mechanism for evaluation or oversight. Its unintended consequences could be repaired only by passing another constitutional amendment.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State opposes Amendment 3. It’s a very bad idea with serious consequences. The complete text of the amendment is available at http://www.sos.mo.gov/cmsimages/Elections/Petitions/2016-152.pdf