Millstone creates ‘Good government for Missouri’

BY VICTORIA SIEGEL, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

“The best way to build relationships with our legislators in Jefferson City is through personal interaction, meetings, and bringing them to St. Louis to our Jewish Federation,” explained Robert “Bob” Millstone, creator of Good Government For Missouri, a bi-partisan political action committee (PAC). He hopes to accomplish this task through the work of the PAC.

A product of the Federation’s strategic planning work, the PAC was started a year ago. Its goal is to strengthen the partnership between the Jewish community and its state-level elected officials.

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“There are limits on how much citizens can give legislators,” offered Millstone. “So why will they listen to us? Because they want to meet their constituency and members of the PAC. The best you can hope for is to sit down and hope they listen.”

This formula seems to be working as evidenced by the PAC’s recent successes. The PAC was part of the group that obtained funding for NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community), and was an important piece of the effort to minimize cuts to Medicaid in our community. “We have to form coalitions with other people,” stated Millstone. “It is particularly important for the Jewish people to collaborate with other groups.”

Millstone added, “I see this as part of tikkun olam. I care about our Jewish community and our agencies. Our PAC works on issues related to social service issues. Even though issues arise out of the Jewish community, they go beyond the community. A lot of these social services issues are not restricted to Jews, like Medicaid for example.”

The PAC tends to focus on social service concerns like Medicaid, transportation, and issues for seniors like NORC. Its goals for 2006 include:

* Continuing to work on Medicaid, particularly for people with disabilities.

* Obtaining youth opportunity tax credits.

* Securing greater resources for child abuse prevention programs for associations like Jewish Family and Children Services.

* Working on neighborhood assistance programs tax credits like for Camp Sabra.

* Increasing funding for in-home services and reimbursement for healthcare providers for in-home services, like at Covenant House.

The PAC currently has over 30 members. It contributes to both Democrat and Republican legislators who support its mission. “The issues we are working on are the kind that both parties can support,” Millstone said, “even if the parties may have different ways on how to support them.”

People who want to participate in the PAC make monetary contributions and attend two to three meetings a year as well as events with legislators. The minimum contribution for people 40 years and older is $500; for people younger than 40 the contribution is $250. The leadership level requires a $1,000 contribution. Millstone stated that the PAC’s financial goal is to raise annually $25,000. June 30 will mark the end of the PAC’s fiscal year.

“The PAC is a great way to leverage your contribution to the Federation and to increase your impact,” concluded Millstone. “And it’s a great way to meet other people active in the Jewish community.” To find out how to get involved in the PAC, contact Millstone at [email protected], 314-721-8815.