Friday, February 24, 2017

Greitens Plugs Budget Hole With Tobacco Money

Governor Eric Greitens announced he’d use new money from a legal settlement to reverse his proposed cuts to programs for disabled Missourians as well as a little relief for the regularly decimated funds for school transportation.

See the Post-Dispatch article here.


One budget watcher calls this a “gift.”  A gift from 2004… “Because the arbitrations are multi-state, this one took years of litigation. This $50 million is the result of litigation for the 2004 payment.  They have just started litigating the 2005 payment case.  Each arbitration is before a new panel.  It’s a long uphill battle against white shoe law firms and tobacco companies.  The expectation now will be for Attorney General Josh Hawley to settle several years of arbitration going forward.  If he gets a bad deal, the state’s annual payments would be reduced…  And the kicker: the lawyers that worked the cases are no longer there…”


Greitens Does Vegas – and Springfield

Governor Eric Greitens is listed as a speaker at this weekend’s Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting in Las Vegas.  See it here.

And he’s hosting a “meet and greet” at Lincoln Days in Springfield Saturday morning.


Parson Does Office Work?

Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson gets a splash of bad press for remodeling his office.  See the article here.

One observer notes: “Greitens doesn’t respond to any press inquiries, [but] made sure to hae his team respond to how much office renovations cost…”


Lesson from KS Tax Cuts

All tax cuts are not created equal.  Some can spur economic activity.  Others – like the Kansas cuts – are “picking winners and losers,” and spur non-productive activity: businesses reclassifying themselves so they can qualify for a cut.

See Washington Post article here.

Pull Quote: In the case of Brownback’s overhaul, pass-through income has been completely exempt from taxation. In 2012, the state had projected that about 200,000 pass-through entities would take advantage of the exemption. In fact, about 330,000 ostensible small businesses profited from the rule. That data suggests the reform encouraged tens of thousands of Kansans to claim their wages and salaries as income from a business rather than from employment.

That avoidance has contributed to repeated budget deficits, forcing state policymakers to take emergency measures, exhausting the state’s reserves and diverting money dedicated to maintaining highways to keep the state’s government operating.


Nothing Nice for Lobbyists!

MOScout tipster says that a recent meeting of the lobbyists’ association – the Missouri Society of Governmental Consultants – the group’s leadership gave an update on negotiations about the new security procedures. Lobbyists would like some sort of frequent visitor pass to get them through security without having to wait in line behind the school children.  They said that the Department of Public Safety and the Capitol Police have supported the idea of a pass (after a background check) because it would reduce congestion and save other resources. However, the tipster says, the “governor’s office has vetoed passes for frequent visitors saying they don’t want to be seen as doing anything special for lobbyists.”


Follow-Up on Charters

MOScouter: Your calling MNEA, MASA, MSTA, etc. "public school advocates" misses the fact that Charter schools are public schools too. They are funded with public dollars, considerably fewer public dollars than district schools, but they are public schools non-the-less.

Also, many of the people on that committee voted for the 2012 law (sponsored by the now Speaker) that gave sponsors the authority to close charter schools and its embarrassing that the State Board didn't know what their authority was and wasn't. Members of the committee [should be] concerned that members of the state board do not understand what their powers are.

[Finally] the State Board of Education also cannot tell a district what underperforming schools should be closed. This isn't the authority of the State Board… if it tried to do that to any of the schools in any of these members’ districts the legislature would be calling for their heads.


Ward Passes

From the obituary: Bob Ward, 76, of Bonne Terre, passed away January 23, 2017 at home surrounded by the love of his family. He was born July 3, 1940, in Bonne Terre, to the late Harry G. and Scbeulah Louise (Weitzel) Ward. Bob was a Democratic Representative in the 107 District in the Missouri House of Representatives, which covered St. Francois County and parts of Ste. Genevieve County. Elected to his seventh consecutive two-year term in 1994, Bob served as majority Floor Leader from 1991 through 1995. During the 84th and 85th General Assemblies, Bob was elected Majority Whip. He was also a member of the House Correctional and State Institutions Committee.

See the obituary here.



Speaker Todd Richardson appointed the Special Committee on Tax Policy for Working Families. Rep. Mike Kelley is the chair; and Rep. Billy Kidd is the vice-chair.  The other members are Reps. Derek Grier, Kevin Corlew, Kurt Bahr and Paul Curtman.


Rep. Jack Bondon was added Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee.


Sens. Jamilah Nasheed and Maria Chappelle-Nadal called on the St. Louis Police Retirement System to divest itself from Russia. The press release: “New information provided to the Senators from the Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement details $6,576,372 in St. Louis Police Retirement System investments in Russia through four separate money managers. Because these investments represent less than one percent of the entire market value of this system, the divestiture of these funds will not greatly impact the fund's performance or diversity. Last month, Sen. Chappelle-Nadal filed Senate Bill 308 to prohibit state and local government agencies from contracting with or investing in individuals, partnerships, corporations, or other organizations doing business with Russia or its occupied territories…”


Help Wanted

Operation Food Search seeks Director of Policy.

“Operation Food Search (OFS), a leading hunger relief organization, strengthens the bi-state region’s safety net by providing food assistance and nutrition education to more than 330 member agencies including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, transitional homes, community organizations, and schools located in 31 Missouri and Illinois counties and St. Louis City….

Develop and implement strategies that educate and engage elected officials, policymakers, government agencies, and direct service providers around hunger issues, with the purpose of reducing food access barriers… Identify opportunities for OFS to advance policy and program goals with agencies and organizations including: the USDA, FRAC, state agencies, elected officials, and other state-wide non-profits, associations, and coalitions…”

See the ad here.


Today’s Events

Powered by Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Republicans’ Lincoln Days – Springfield MO.  See the peerless John Combest’s bingo card here.


Lobbyists Registrations

Andrew Briscoe added ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

Joshua Clark and Katie Walkley added Kansas City Home Builders Association.

Sarah Steelman added Office of Administration.

Andy Blunt, Jay Reichard, Chris Moody, Mark Schwartz, Noel Torpey and Angela Schulte deleted AGP.


$5K+ Contributions

United Food & Commercial Workers Local #655 Elect Political Action Fund - $6,415 from UFCW Local 655.

Reginal Progress PAC - $57,500 from Anheuser Busch Companies.

Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Political Account - $52,503 from Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.



Happy birthdays to former Sens. Chuck Graham and Jolie Justus, Reps. Sonya Anderson and Peter Merideth, St. Louis Alderman Steve Conway, Rich Chrismer, and MOChamber’s Tracy King.

Saturday: Former Sen. Rob Mayer (the big 6-0).

Sunday: Greitens staffer Brad Green, lobbyist Brad Thielemier, and Committeewoman Marie Ceselski.