Meet The Eigel Plan
This week, Sen. Bill Eigel is expected to unveil his proposal for tax reform. As I wrote on Friday, Eigel is one of the leading opponents of an additional fuel tax to pay for more transportation funding. But in his tax reform plan, he’ll propose just that. The gas tax increase in his plan is just one piece of a comprehensive restructuring of Missouri’s tax system.
Eigel’s plan is remarkable. Here’s a conservative with a plan containing several items that liberals will be happy to see. For example, Eigel calls for the elimination of the state income tax for low-incomes individuals. And it would end the discount that businesses receive for paying their sales tax on time.
The business community, meanwhile, will be cheered by a transportation funding stream – albeit smaller than they might prefer – and also a tax cut for small businesses.
Eigel will also propose a cap in tax credits.
What It Means
Is this a compromise that can work? No. There’s too many moving pieces to say that it would work. Any reconfiguring of the current system creates winners and losers. And losers will fight it tooth and nail. But it moves the conversation forward. And in November that’s all you can hope for. Additionally, it shows that Eigel and his transportation tax opponents are not simply calcified NO votes. They’re open to dialogue.
Q&A #1: What Does Driskill’s Resignation Mean?
Short answer: Big win for “reformers.”
Joe Driskill’s resignation over the weekend is expected to be followed shortly by an appointment from Eric Greitens. That will be Greitens’ fifth appointment to the State Board of Education. It will give his appointees a working majority on the eight-person board.
It’s been no secret that the governor wants “his own person” in the spot of DESE commissioner. The Post-Dispatch reported that Greitens’ pick was even brought in for a visit recently. With five members on the board now, one would expect that we see the ousting of the current commissioner fairly quickly.
But one observer thinks that down the road the state board of education could influence the strength of the charter and choice movements in other ways.
“I think you could see some big changes [in accreditation of school districts]… marginal districts become unaccredited so that it opens those districts up to more choice…”
Also the new majority appears to be digging into the Missouri School Improvement Program 6 (MSIP 6). The same source says “there is a lot of accountability in the MSIP” and some reformers think “MSIP VI is a joke.”
At the last meeting “Consideration of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Adopt Rule 5 CSR 20-100.295, Relating to the MISP” was on the agenda but pulled back when some of the new appointees started asking questions.
Drama in SJSD Tax Increase!
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft says there is “potentially criminal activity.” But on Facebook the St. Joseph School District denies it while decrying “coordinated effort” between Stan Herzog and Ashcroft to sink their proposed tax increase. Grab the popcorn, folks!
HERZOG SHENANIGANS EXPOSED → The St. Joseph School District has received a copy of Secretary of State Ashcroft’s press release suggesting that the District improperly used public funds to promote Proposition 1. In his press release, Secretary Ashcroft also stated his support for transparency and accountability and the wise spending of tax dollars so as not to violate the public trust. Ironically, the District’s communications were designed to promote exactly what Secretary Ashcroft says he supports—transparency in how the District intends to spend tax dollars. The District vigorously denies violating any laws. Missouri law clearly allows the District to advise the public as to the impact of a ballot measure, and explain how tax dollars will be spent. This is the very definition of transparency. Unfortunately, Secretary Ashcroft has not himself followed Missouri law, according to the school district’s legal counsel. Missouri statutes are clear about the process Secretary Ashcroft must follow, but he has failed to do so. He is authorized to refer a complaint to the local prosecuting attorney, not the Attorney General, and then only after he has conducted an investigation and issued a statement of probable cause. He has done neither, but instead has asked the Attorney General to investigate. Missouri law does not allow Attorney General Hawley to be involved in this complaint. No one from the Secretary of State’s office has even discussed the complaint with any District official. Aside from its concerns over Secretary Ashcroft’s failure to follow the law, the District is further troubled by the fact that the leading opponent of Proposition 1, Herzog Contracting Corp., contributed $125,000 last year to Secretary Ashcroft’s campaign. This leads the District to believe that this is really a last-minute, coordinated effort by those opposing Proposition 1 to smear the school district, and ultimately harm the children of St. Joseph. Proposition 1 is a non-partisan issue. We are confident that neither the Secretary of State nor the Attorney General wants to become involved in last minute election shenanigans such as this. We urge both to follow the process established by the Missouri Legislature. The school children of St. Joseph do not deserve to be pawns in Jefferson City political games. See it here.
Here is the Ashcroft press release… “We have received a complaint regarding the St. Joseph School’s use of public funds related to proposition one. Based on our preliminary investigation, we have found several probable violations of multiple statutes, which include potential public corruption and the use of public taxpayer dollars for political issues…. In addition, we will be sharing our findings of potential criminal activity to the local prosecutor, the Attorney General’s office, and the U.S. Attorney for the western district for determination of further action.”
Boone County Use Tax
Tuesday’s special election ballot in Boone County includes proposals for a use tax countywide and in the cities of Columbia, Ashland and Harrisburg. Not much of a campaign has been mounted in support of the use taxes, which would equal the current sales tax rates in those jurisdictions.
But Boone County Commissioner Janet Thompson’s comments published the weekend before Election Day in the Columbia Daily Tribune will test the political principle that voters demand to know where revenues will go and the justification before approving a tax increase. From the story: “Thompson said the commissioners have not decided how to spend the use tax revenue before Tuesday’s election because they did not want to commit to funding certain services when other needs could be more pressing in the future. The Callaway County Commission told voters the use tax revenue would go toward law enforcement, increasing the odds for success at the polls.”
Mike Martin says he has filed an MEC complaint about the City of Columbia’s advocacy for the use tax using public funding and communications platforms. See it here.
KC Airport Poll Follow-Up
The Weekly MOScout Poll showed that the Kansas City Airport proposal has gathered some momentum. Here are the results from the top-line question this past weekend compared with the same question asked two months ago in September (9/9/17) in parentheses.
Q1: Shall the City of Kansas City be authorized to construct a new passenger terminal at Kansas City International Airport and demolish existing terminals as necessary, with all costs paid solely from the revenues derived by the City from the operation of its airports and related facilities, and without the issuance of general airport revenue bonds unless such general airport revenue bonds have received prior voter approval?
Yes: 53% (44%)
No: 39% (38%)
Undecided: 8% (18%)
Dinkins Echoes Cierpiot
Those opening their Potosi Independent Journal read House 144 special election Republican nominee Chris Dinkins echoed Rep. Mike Cierpiot’s line about the “St. Louis riots.” It appears this is becoming standard GOP rhetoric in out-state Missouri. She’s quoted in the IJ “The riots in St. Louis have been a national embarrassment. I will always have the backs of the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect our families.”
Senate 14: No Dee
Jeanne Dee tells me she won’t be a candidate in Senate 14 (Democratic primary to replace Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal). “I am not running for anything.”
That puts the list of candidates at three: Reps. Joe Adams and Courtney Curtis, and former Rep. Sharon Pace.
Tony Messenger continues to hit the Veterans Home scandal. Messenger’s not going to stop until Greitens shows he cares and is taking action. See it here.
Missouri Ethics Commission fines Tracy Gritsenko $3,552 for multiple violations. See it here. Gritsenko is a member of the University City School Board.
Rudi Keller reports that the campaign manager of Renee Hoagenson was arrested for DWI. Hoagenson is a Democrat challenging Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler.
The press release: On Sunday, Governor Eric Greitens [departed] for a trade mission to Israel. The Governor will meet with top government, business, and educational leaders in an effort to strengthen the economic and cultural bonds between Missouri and the State of Israel. The Governor will be working to bring more jobs to Missouri and establish innovative partnerships in higher education, cybersecurity, agriculture, and public safety. The trip is being funded by the Hawthorn Foundation and the Republican Jewish Coalition. This is the Governor's final trade mission of his first year in office. Previous trips have resulted in hundreds of new Missouri jobs and new relationships to sell more Missouri products overseas.
Oren Shur signed this “Open Letter from Hillary for America 2016 Team” while 99% of Dems want them to stop navel-gazing, go away, and stop talking about the 2016 election!!!!
St. Joseph Seeks ESCO
From the RFQ: The intent of this Request for Proposal on Qualifications (RFQ) is to solicit qualification proposals from Energy Services Companies (ESCOs)… St. Joseph intends to select an ESCO and award contract(s) to perform cost-effective energy conservation retrofits…
The City of St. Joseph looks to address its energy and capital needs through a guaranteed energy cost savings program. St. Joseph is a municipality that manages and operates an extensive list of facilities, including oversight from the Fire Department, Police Department, Administrative Services, Public Works, and Parks Department. Facilities types range from industrial, office, mixed use, recreational, and specialized uses like an ice arena. Additional needs outside of traditional facilities, like wastewater treatment, street lights or other areas of infrastructure, will be considered as a part of a potential partnership with the selected ESCO.
The City of St. Joseph anticipates a major reduction in annual utility costs through the implementation of this energy conservation program. The ESCO will provide a written guarantee of all utility reductions and provide all financing for the project….
Committee for Better Jobs was formed. Its treasurer is John Wanamaker. It’s in support of an April tax increase for Ozark Technical Community College. See the paperwork here.
Shamrock PAC was formed. Its treasurer is Leanne Dolan.
From Mary Scruggs’ indispensable calendar:
MO House Democrats Reception – Boundary – St. Louis – 5:30PM.
Trent Watson deleted Missouri Sheriffs’ Association.
Supporters Of A Better SJSD - $10,000 from Kendall Randolph.
KC Transportation Transit and Tourism Committee (KC3T) - $20,000 from Polsinelli.
Supporters Of A Better SJSD - $10,000 from Herzog Contracting Corp.
Citizens for Jake Zimmerman - $10,000 from CHIPP Political Account.
Happy birthdays to Reps. Keith Frederick and Joe Runions.