Monday, February 27, 2017

Lincoln Days

Reports from the Republican Party’s Lincoln Days… “Smaller crowd than normal. Fewer hospitality suites than usual. Not surprising since no executive director has been hired. This should be a big party and the mood is tepid at best… Pretty poor turnout all the way around. Hospitality suites suck. Dinner was a wake. Should have been a celebration like no other. Very disheartening. With quality leadership it would have been different. Sad.”


Lincoln Days: Rumors 2018

Lots of talk about who should challenge Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. David Wasinger was aggressively meeting with people and Congresswoman Ann Wagner was looking like a senate candidate in waiting. However the name that was being discussed Friday was that mega donor David Humphreys was considering running for the senate. Many speculate that seeing WI Senator Ron Johnson and Betsy DeVos confirmed as Education Secretary piqued his interest.

Other names… Attorney General Josh Hawley was not saying he would not run for the Senate when people encouraged him; some are looking to Sen. Mike Kehoe to run; and Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer’s name has been added to the mix – as well as Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler.  According to one Dem watching the situation, Hartzler would be McCaskill’s preferred opponent.


Lincoln Days: Grumbles

Some GOP activists were complaining about the lack of accessibility of Governor Eric Greitens.  He briefly attended Lincoln Days Saturday fitting it into his Las Vegas jaunt, but “he parked in the back when he arrived and had his security detail escort him through the back of the hotel. He spoke on stage, took some photos, chatted and then quickly left…”


Plenty of Greitens swag left… See it here.


Bill Filing Deadline Ahead

Wednesday – March 1 – is the deadline for filing bills in both the House and the Senate.  Though the House’s new rules allow for House Committee Bills to be created until April 1.


Greitens Adds His Appointees to Tax Credit Commission

The press release: Governor Eric Greitens announced today the members of his Committee for Simple, Fair, and Low Taxes… Governor Greitens has named as Chairman of the Committee Joel Walters, the Governor's recently-named Director of the Department of Revenue… The Governor has also named Jason Crowell, John Lamping, and Will Scharf to the Committee.

All in all a very hawkish commission that should be able to reach consensus on recommendations for sweeping changes to the current tax credit system.

There are lots of ways the commission could go.  They could get into the weeds of policy, demanding a new economic model for scoring whether credits are net positive or not; they could suggest tightened clawback provisions when credits don’t fulfill the economic projections; they could lower caps and move from a first-come/first-serve model to application periods with rankings determining credit distribution; and perhaps simplest of all (though very unpopular with developers) make credits subject to appropriations.


Some economic development advocates worry that the governor’s zeal to show “do different” and proclaim how much of a failure Missouri is because of past “career politicians and insiders” may lead to him “cutting off the nose to spite the face” when it comes to EcoDevo tools.

They feel the governor is targeting programs like Missouri Main Street Connection, a nonprofit heling revitalize Missouri’s downtowns and business districts in some of the more depressed areas of Missouri.

If he cuts these programs, who will help the regions of Missouri which clearly need help? For example, the “Southeast Region” where the “average unemployment rate is 7.2%, far surpassing the state average of 4.4% (Dec 2016). According to MERIC, the poverty level of the region is 27.1%, significantly higher than the Missouri average of 15.5%.”


More on Charters

Over the weekend the Post-Dispatch ran an article about charter schools which have been struggling to produce strong test results from their students and the inability of the state board to hold them accountable.  See it here.

Pull Quote:  Of the more than 10,400 children who attend charter schools in St. Louis, few perform worse as a group than the 2,800 who attend Confluence Academies. The network of five schools on four campuses has lagged far behind state averages on Missouri standardized exams throughout its 14-year history…  And yet on Tuesday, Missouri’s Board of Education said it had no choice but to grant the schools a fresh five-year license to operate…

Doug Thaman, executive director of the Missouri Public Charter School Association, said the law is working as it was intended. Limiting the state board’s power, he said, is a deliberate way to ensure charter schools remain independent and free to pursue educational reforms…

The schools as a group passed just 48.3 percent of the state’s accreditation standards, meaning they fare as poorly as an unaccredited school district. Even so, school leaders say the score is significantly higher than the 28.3 percent rating in 2013.

Leaders also point out that they serve a high-poverty student population, with Confluence schools outperforming district schools in the neighborhoods where they operate. For example, 33.2 percent of students at Confluence’s Aspire Academy scored proficient or advanced in English, compared to just 10.6 percent for Walbridge Elementary located two blocks away and 15.2 percent at nearby Herzog Elementary….


eMailbag on Charter Debate

Charter schools are public schools when they want to be and when it’s most convenient for them. Look no further than the action (or lack thereof) of the state board of education. Rather than have the ability to close down a failing public school (like they did with the Wellston School District) the State Board of Education’s hands are tied when it comes to charter schools. Instead, the schools are governed by a college or university that receives a financial benefit from keeping open failed schools… The General Assembly gave the State Board of Education the ability to lapse any portion of an unaccredited district just a few years ago which stated their intent that they expect the State Board to take action on failing schools, including shutting them down. To the General Assembly and Budget Committee’s credit the conversations this week were very consistent that they expect the State Board to take action on failing charter schools as well…



Press release: The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans and the St. Louis Regional Freightway today entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to exchange market and operational information with the goal of growing trade and building upon existing and new business relationships between the two regions and critical ports. The agreement also calls for joint marketing efforts to meet those objectives…

The Port of New Orleans is served by the Mississippi River and its tributaries, which combined offer 14,500 miles of navigable waterways. With three inland ports, including the nation’s third and eighth largest inland ports, the St. Louis region holds an enviable position within that inland waterway system, strategically located in the heart of the nation at the northernmost ice-free and lock-free point on the Mississippi River.

At the core of the MOU is the shared recognition that continued growth at the Port of New Orleans, and future growth around freight movement through the various ports in the bi-state St. Louis region, are intrinsically connected, with 500 million tons of cargo already being handled by the Lower Mississippi River…


Lobbyists Registrations

Kristian Starner and Aaron Baker added Lathrop & Gage LLP.

Jonathan Dalton added Drury Hotels Company LLC.

Jason Zamkus added Mers / Missouri Goodwill Industries, Randall's Wines & Spirits, and Bi-lingual International Assistant Services.


$5K+ Contributions

House Republican Campaign Committee Inc - $15,000 from Friends of Todd Richardson.

Tishaura O Jones for Mayor - $10,000 from MoveOn.Org PAC.

MO Republican Party - $14,194 from Corrigan Leadership Fund.

Citizens Investing in J Plus C - $10,000 from Civic Progress Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce.

Citizens Investing in J Plus C - $9,000 from Civic Progress Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce.

Citizens Investing in J Plus C - $15,000 from Civic Progress Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce.

Progress KC PAC - $10,000 from HDR Inc.

Progress KC PAC - $25,000 from DST Systems Inc.

Progress KC PAC - $25,000 from The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City.

Quality Schools for Kids - $10,000 from Bryan Properties.



Happy birthdays to Doug Crews and former Rep. Mike Lair.



To Aaron Baker and wife Erica on the birth of their daughter Bright Hope Baker. 7 lbs and 13 oz, and 19" long.