Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Senate Amends Budget Bills

In a break with Senate tradition, the budget bills were amended on the Senate floor yesterday.  One long-time observer says that this happened about 20 years ago when the budget was caught up in a pro-life/prochoice tussle.  But in recent history it has never been done.

The tradition is to defer to the Appropriations Chairman and the work of that committee.

An unbowed Sen. Gary Romine proposed changing HB2 to follow the House’s lead and fully fund the foundation formula. (A MOScout poll last weekend found that this position was popular with Missourians.)  Appropriations Chair Dan Brown spoke against the amendment.  He argued that some school didn’t want the formula fully funded, and that the Senate shouldn’t start reconfiguring the budget after his committee had done the work of piecing it together.

In past session, those arguments would have held sway, but this Senate is different.

Democrats backed Romine’s proposal as did Republican Sens. Bob Dixon, Bill Eigel, Denny Hoskins, Andrew Koenig, Will Kraus, Doug Libla, Caleb Rowden, Rob Schaaf, and Ryan Silvey.

In HB6, Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal was able to insert $3 million for the Missouri Contaminated Home Acquisition Program.

The Senate perfected the first 9 budget bills before breaking for the evening.

What It Means

First, it’s a big win for Budget Chair Scott Fitzpatrick.  Fully funding the formula was a big priority of his.  If the Senate had offered something less, who knows what he might have had to surrender in return.  He now has his top prize and the House hasn’t even sat down to conference yet.

Second, I would argue it’s a big win for Republicans generally.  As mentioned above, the full funding is politically popular.  Yes there’s obvious dysfunction going on in the Senate, but the wider public won’t see that.  They’ll see a fully funded education budget.  Together with right to work, this is already a historic year for the Republican legislature.

Finally, it’s true: rewriting the budget on the floor is another blow to the Senate leadership.  As one building denizen texted me, “what we are witnessing in the Senate is what happens when the people ‘in charge’ are no longer respected or feared.”


Schaaf Sets Sights on Dark Money Ban

Sen. Rob Schaaf, still angry over the governor’s political non-profit attacking legislators, said that he would oppose any bill after the budget that’s not dealing with the dark money problem.  It’s now become Schaaf number one priority apparently.

Schaaf’s Recusal

And Schaaf left some observers curious when he recused himself from HB9 – both in committee last week and on the Senate floor last night.  Recusal usually means that a senator feels that they have a conflict of interest that prevents them from voting.  HB9 deals with funding the Department of Corrections, so some wonder what his recusal would stem from.


CFIF and Others Urge Greitens to Take on Public Unions

The Center for Individual Freedom, along with a host of other conservative organizations like Missouri Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, and ALEC, sent a letter to Governor Eric Greitens urging him to get behind HB251.

See the letter here.

Rep. Jared Taylor’s HB 251 regulates dues and financial reports of public union.  The Senate debated the bill in March.  It’s been on the Senate’s informal calendar sine then.


Roberts For Alderman

Steven Roberts – this looks like Rep. Steven Roberts Jr.’s dad – formed a committee to run for St. Louis City Alderman in Ward 28.  That’s the ward now vacant after Lyda Krewson ascended to become mayor.  Roberts is a former alderman, and businessman who now is a top aide to the city’s sheriff.


Altman on Corporate Tax Revenue Drop

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports on the “plummeting” corporate income tax revenue in Missouri.  See it here.

Pull Quote:  Gov. Eric Greitens highlighted that 35 percent drop in his budget address early in February, as he set out to explain “the mess we’re in.”

Despite the new Republican governor’s bleak view of the economy, the state’s own numbers showed a far different picture. At the end of January unemployment was just above four percent, and sales and income tax revenues were both up three percent over the prior year.

So why the big drop in corporate income tax revenue?

Amy Blouin, the executive director of the Missouri Budget Project, said the decline is self-inflicted… The non-profit group points to Senate Bill 19, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit) and passed in 2015. It changed how multi-state corporations have to allocate their profits among states, allowing them to reduce their tax liability in Missouri. Kraus did not return a call for comment…


Powell to Supreme Court

Press release: Governor Eric Greitens has appointed Judge W. Brent Powell, of Kansas City, to serve as the next judge on the Supreme Court of Missouri… "In his years on the bench, Judge Brent Powell has established himself as an outstanding jurist," Governor Greitens said.  "He has received high marks for being humble, fair-minded, and of the highest integrity. I am confident Judge Powell will be committed to strengthening and improving our court system and guarding the rule of law as a judge on our state's highest court."


eMailbag on Conflicts of Interest

One should ask the Governor if Uber Execs or investors are funding his not for profit…


Schaaf's arrogance and hypocrisy caught up with him… We, in the business, get all caught up in the Capitol viewpoint and Senate tradition.  That has zero impact on Greitens and the public.  And Greitens will win in a battle with Schaaf in the court of public, political opinion every time right now.   Regardless if the issue is off topic or on.  Schaaf blinked by bailing out of McIntosh's house.  If he wasn't guilty of something, why do that?   He blinked and lost.


Today’s Events

From Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Rep. Shamed Dogan Coffee – Downtown Diner – Jefferson City – 7:30AM.

Reps. Alan Gray & Jay Mosley Reception – 223 Madison – Jefferson City – 5:30PM.


Lobbyists Registrations

Richard McIntosh deleted Securus Technologies.



Happy birthday to Jennifer Bauer.