MOScout Daily Update: LIHTC Reforms Coming? - Civil Service Reforms Here! - Galloway Ad - Ameren's $1B and more...

Next Session Issues: LIHTC Reform

There are a couple of issues looming over the upcoming session.  One of them is the state’s subsidy for low income housing.

Aside from style, temperament, and ambition, it’s one of the few substantive policy differences between Governor Mike Parson and his predecessor.

Parson was clearly on the record in support of the state Low Income Housing Tax Credit program as Governor Eric Greitens moved to grind it to a halt.

Recently Parson appointed two new members to the Missouri Housing Development Commission, the body which issues the credits.  With those appointments he stated his conditions for reinstating the flow of credits: “We are confident in the legislature’s ability to develop tax credit reforms that address housing needs, while ensuring greater accountability and an increased return on the investment of taxpayer dollars. As a member of the Commission, I am committed to considering current federal tax credit applications, but until substantial reforms are enacted, state tax credits will not be issued.”

This puts the ball in the legislature’s court.  But it does so with an entirely different context than a year ago.  Instead of a hostile second floor using the bully pulpit to characterize the program as a giveaway for greedy special interests, Parson has actually visited low-income housing developments and seems to appreciate their value.

Here are a few possible reforms that the legislature may look:

·         Recapture credits if a developer doesn’t have building permit within two years of receiving them.  This would increasing accountability on developers to ensure they have their financing in place and can get to closing, and it would limit the state’s liability of outstanding credits.

·         Remove the cap that limits developments to less than 50 units. Bigger deals allow soft costs (legal, architectural, etc) to be spread across more units, and increased the bang for the taxpayer buck.

·         Implement a mechanism to ensure that a certain percentage of projects each year result in Medicaid savings.  Nearly half of all residents in senior LIHTC projects are diverted from Medicaid-funded units in nursing homes where a unit is roughly 4 times as expensive.

 

Implementing the End of the Merit System

A recent RFP issued by the state shows how the civil service reform bill from last session will be impacting the state’s hiring practices.


From the RFP: The State of Missouri has fallen behind private sector recruitment capabilities, which has resulted in difficulty attracting the best job applicants for open positions.  In order to attract top talent, job applicants need to view the application process as easy and worth their time.  It is important for the State of Missouri to compete in the job market, so a system that represents what job seekers experience in the job market will be beneficial.  The ability to track and understand the time to hire across all agencies is critical for the state.  A system that is able to provide efficiencies and ensure effective and prompt notifications for job applicants and hiring managers will assist in time to fill open positions. 

In 2018, Missouri Senate Bill 1007 (SB1007) was passed, which modified and repealed several provisions relating to Missouri’s State Personnel Law (SPL), commonly referred to as the merit system.  This included a change in hiring requirements, which cannot be met by the antiquated EASe, MAIRS, and MO Careers systems currently in use.  The State of Missouri requires a new statewide centralized application software solution, which will be utilized by all state agencies, to effectively and efficiently replace the current EASe, MAIRS, and MO Careers systems.   

Without a new centralized application solution, agencies may need to request additional full-time employees (FTEs) to accommodate manual processes in response to SB1007 that cannot be performed through EASe, MAIRS, and/or MO Careers, or agencies may have to purchase and implement various other employment software applications to address their specific needs, which may result in job applicants having to complete numerous applications.  Either option could result in additional costs to tax payers…

A new solution will eliminate redundancies in processes performed by individual agencies, resulting in better services and eventual cost savings to the citizen of Missouri.

The following processes will result in cost savings by reducing the person-hours needed to perform certain tasks:

·         The Certification Unit currently spends approximately 85% of their time on manual processes that will be eliminated by automation or due to processes no longer being needed.  This will result in cost savings of approximately $100,000 annually.

·         Various manual processes exist in agencies throughout the state to accommodate previous Merit hiring processes.  Agencies report 16,485 hours spent on generating and sending availability letters.  Assuming a current average hourly wage for a Personnel Clerk of $15.28, the cost savings that will be realized by reducing personnel hours is approximately $251,891.

·         Previously, agencies have spent approximately $100,000 annually on postage to notify job applicants of Merit opportunities.  This amount will be reduced by approximately 95% as applications become electronic, which equals approximately $95,000 in savings. 

 

Galloway’s First Ad: I’m Just Getting Started

Post-Dispatch reports that Auditor Nicole Galloway is up on TV.  See the ad here.

“Waste. Fraud. Abuse.  These aren’t just words to me.  These are violations that cheat taxpayers and what I uncover every day as auditor.  I’m not a politician.  I’m a CPA, a certified fraud examiner, and a mother of three.  Like you, I’m disappointed by politicians who break our trust.  On my watch I’m identified over $300 million in government waste which has resulted in dozens of criminal counts. And I’m just getting started, Missouri.”

 

Year of The Woman

St. Louis Public Radio reports on the surge in women running for office in Missouri.  See it hereMary Elizabeth Coleman, running in House 97, gets some spotlight.

Coleman, a lawyer and mother of six who’s integrated her family into the campaign, says she’s noticed an attitude shift on the campaign trail. “Maybe it’s because it’s the year of the woman and there’s understanding,” she said. “Let that be a good mark of who we are in 2018 that people understand that your intellect and your ability isn’t limited because you’re holding a baby.”

That’s not to say people don’t have questions for her about how she’ll balance her role as public servant and mother if elected. But Coleman doesn’t blanche at those ‘How are you going to get this done?’ questions.

“I know some women candidates get really cranky when that’s asked and they think nobody would ask a man that,” she said. “But, I think it’s a legitimate question, right? People want to know, ‘Hey, can you do this job and take care of your family.’”

For Coleman, doing both means her schedule launches into hyperdrive after school drop-off, tackling campaign to-do lists and prepping for the evening fundraiser in between making breakfast bars and calling babysitters.

 

Ameren Seeks Contractors for $1B Grid Upgrades

St. Louis Business Journal reports that “Ameren Missouri has launched a new qualification process for contractors wanting to bid for any of the $1 billion in grid projects slated to start next year. The projects are part of Smart Energy Plan, which was developed following the passing of Missouri Senate Bill 564 this summer. The new law authorizes Ameren to spend $1 billion over the next five years on grid upgrades. It also includes a 6 percent rate cut, a rate freeze until 2020 and rate caps. As part of Smart Energy Plan, Ameren is specifically looking for companies that specialize in directional boring services, hydro excavation services, underground cabling installation services, underground duct bank installation service, and overhead line electrical installation services. The program, among the largest in company history, is projected to generate 3,000 direct and indirect jobs over the five-year period, said Warren Wood, Ameren Missouri vice president of external affairs and communications…”

 

Show Me Institute: Minimum Wage Hike?  Booooo!

The free market Show Me Institute has a new study out looking at the potential impact from the minimum wage increase on the ballot next month.  “Using data from the Current Population Survey for Missouri, we estimate that between 321,000 and 367,000 workers will be affected by this minimum wage hike and between 10,000 to 12,000 jobs would be lost.1 The affected workers are disproportionately young, are less educated, and work in the restaurant or retail sales

industry. In fact, we estimate that only 19 percent of the workers who would benefit from a wage increase are living in poverty. The main reason for this is that most minimum wage workers (e.g., teenagers) are part of families with other income sources raising them out of poverty. In

the end, a minimum wage hike is a blunt anti-poverty tool that may in fact do more damage than good to the poor...”

 

Judge Wanna-Bes

Here’s who applied for the associate circuit judge vacancy created by the appointment of Judge John N. Borbonus III as a circuit judge: Monique D. Abby, Seth A. Albin, George Michael Archer, Ashley Bailey-Smith, Lorne J. Baker, Michael Becker, Kenneth Brison, William Catlett, Daniel E. Diemer, Richard P. Dorsey III, Daniel P. Finney III, Peter W. Gullborg, Matthew H. Hearne, Heather Sandison Heffner, Terri Johnson, Eileen R. Krispin, Julia P. Lasater, Virginia W. Lay, Amanda B. McNelley, Brandi R. Miller, Diane M. Monahan, Ryan N. Munro, Susan M. Petersen, Krista S. Peyton, Edward J. Rolwes, Thomas L. Sandifer, Kenneth R. Schwartz, Ian C. Simmons, Dean A. Stark, Colleen Joern Vetter, and D. Kimberly Whittle.

 

Lobbyist Registrations

Ginger Steinmetz added Missouri Health Connection.

Rachel Hassani added Primary Marketing System Inc.

Edward DeSoignie deleted The Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Missouri Republican Leadership PAC - $25,000 from Leggett & Platt Inc.

SaferMO.Com - $10,000 from Collins & Hermann.

SaferMO.Com - $15,000 from BUILD St. Louis PAC.

SaferMO.Com - $25,000 from HDR Inc.

MO Republican Party - $8,000 from August Busch III.

CLEAN Missouri - $20,000 from Dollar, Burns & Becker, LC.

CLEAN Missouri - $10,000 from Gary and Anita Robb.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Rep. Cody Smith, St. Louis Board President Lewis Reed, Caroline Pelot, Claire Cook-Callen and Erin Elliott.