After two years of representing Douglas, Ozark and most of Taney Counties in the Missouri House of Representatives, 155th District Rep. Karla Eslinger officially announced last Thursday she plans to run for the 33rd District of the Missouri Senate.
The seat is currently held by Sen. Mike Cunningham (R-Rogersville). He has reached the maximum number of terms that can be served by any one person in Missouri and will retire in January.
“It’s been an honor to serve the fine residents of District 155. I am proud of the work that we have been able to do in a short time,” Eslinger said. “I am running for the 33rd Senate District because I want to continue my mission to improve education, economic development and access to quality healthcare for all Missourians.”
On the issue of education, Elisnger, a Republican, said the state needs to focus more resources on the classroom and less on bureaucracy. She noted that often too much is asked of teachers and the resulting added stress affects classroom environments.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Missouri teachers spend over an average of $500 a school year out of their own pockets on basic school supplies for their students. Missouri also ranks almost last in the country in average teacher starting pay.
These examples and a combination of other factors have led to high turnover and low morale among educators, Eslinger acknowledged.
She said she hopes that by bringing more focus onto education issues in the state Senate, they can be addressed.
Regarding economic development, Eslinger said she wants to attract new industries to the state by continuing to work with Gov. Mike Parson and supporting his focus on workforce development and retraining.
Eslinger said she is a strong supporter of the Fast Track Workforce Investment Grant launched in August and hopes that it and similar programs will give Missourians the tools they need to be successful in the workforce.
Improving rural healthcare in Missouri is another issue Eslinger said she wants to focus on.
“We need to look at these by case-by-case basis,” she said, adding that she believes a cookie-cutter approach is not the solution.
When asked if she supported Medicaid expansion in the state, Eslinger said she believes expanding Medicaid is too expensive to do feasibly.
According to 2017 American Community Survey statistics, about 124,000 Missourians fall within what is often referred to as the Medicaid gap, meaning they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to receive health insurance subsidies from the Affordable Healthcare Act.
As a result, the statistics show, many low-income families, elderly or disabled persons spend more on private health insurance or go without health insurance entirely.
In dealing with illegal immigration and voting security, Eslinger said she plans to introduce a Missouri constitutional amendment that would prohibit illegal immigrants from voting in Missouri elections.
“Currently nothing keeps illegals from voting or influencing our elections,” she said.
According to Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft, in order to register to vote in the state a person needs to be age 17 1/2 older, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the state. To be considered a resident a prospective voter needs to have lived in the state for 12 consecutive months.
In addition, all polling locations require a state-approved photo I.D. or proofs of residency as part of the state’s “Show It 2 Vote” initiative.
On Monday, Sen. Cunningham endorsed Eslinger.
“Rep. Eslinger is a strong Constitutional Conservative, 100% pro-life, committed to improving the regional economy and has proven to be one of the hardest workers in Jefferson City,” he said.
Eslinger responded by thanking Cunningham for his service and his endorsement.
“I can’t think of any higher honor that the endorsement of Sen. Cunningham,” she said.