SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–Nearly 350,0000 Missourians are pushing for an increase in government integrity. That’s how many signatures were collected for the Clean Missouri Initiative to be on the November ballot.
Supporters say the initiative will ensure the best interest of Missourians are put before big donors, lobbyists and partisan politics.
One of the big reasons community activists are endorsing it is because they say payday loan companies are spending millions in campaign contributions to lawmakers while Missourians suffer from extremely high interest rates.
“We read in scripture in Proverbs 22 do not exploit the poor because they are poor.” says former pastor, Bob Perry.
Perry is one of more than a dozen advocates pushing for Clean Missouri.
“One of the things that has become clear to me is that the predatory loan industry is out of control in Springfield and Missouri,” says Perry.
The Clean Missouri initiative will lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates, eliminate lobbyist gifts in the general assembly, require politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists, and require that legislative records be open to the public.
Barbara Burgess was at Tuesday’s press conference. She’s still digging herself out of debt from a payday loan.
“I am in debt up to my eyeballs and it makes me physically ill,” says payday loan user, Barbara Burgess.
Burgess is frustrated that lawmakers are being influenced by payday loan companies and not passing legislation to combat predatory loan spending.
“The rate that was always on the paperwork was 443.21%,” says Burgess.
The message shared on Tuesday was if Clean Missouri passes, lawmakers won’t be influenced by what’s in the best interest of their donors rather they will be forced to work in the best interest of the people.
“We need laws that reflect the will of the people here in Missouri and overwhelmingly people in Missouri want to see predatory lending reform. Why have we not gotten the predatory lending reform that we need? It’s the influence of big money, big money speaks louder than people,” says Missouri Clean advocate, Susan Schmalzbauer.
Once the signatures for Clean Missouri are verified, the issue will be on the November 6th ballot for a vote.