Monday December 1, 2014

Catching up from the long weekend and cleaning out the in-box…

 

Schaefer to Senators: Special Session Unnecessary

Here’s a letter from Senate Appropriations Chair Kurt Schaefer to his colleagues regarding Governor Jay Nixon’s announcement he will call a special session…

 

Dear Senators:

Friday night was the first we’ve heard from the Governor that he believes he needs additional money for the National Guard and Highway Patrol to address issues related to Ferguson. While we have no proposal yet from the Governor identifying what amounts he’s seeking, attached is a spreadsheet with the budget lines relevant to the Governor’s call.  The amounts on the spreadsheet are current as of November 29, 2014. Additionally, the amounts remaining for the 2015 fiscal year for each line show up on the SamII system as unencumbered – so presumably those are the amounts in each respective line that remain available to be spent by the Governor absent the legislature giving him additional appropriations.

 

Sections 8.290 and 12.010 are appropriations for emergencies. HB 8.290 (Dept. of Public Safety) may be used for any state agency. HB 12.010 (Governor’s Office) is specifically for when the Guard is called out. As you will see, the amounts appropriated for these lines are the exact amounts the Governor asked for after being informed that there would be no “E” on the appropriations. As most of you know, the Circuit Court in Cole County found the use of an “E” or estimate on a budget line violates the constitutional requirement that the legislature appropriate exact dollar amounts for state expenditures.

 

After the call with the Governor Friday night, it is my understanding that he has been paying the Highway Patrol for all Ferguson related activity from the $3,455,010 of emergency assistance money in line HB 8.290.  You will see that the line still has an unencumbered $3,186,047 remaining. While we don’t know what the Governor is requesting in additional funding for the Patrol, this is a very large amount still available. Also, the Governor currently has an unencumbered $51,892,459 remaining in line 8.090, which is the Highway Patrol’s general operating budget. At least $6 million of this is general revenue. Should the Governor choose to start paying the Patrol for its Ferguson activities through this line he would have a tremendous amount available. Should the Patrol then have insufficient funds to finish out the fiscal year we could address the issue in a supplemental budget when we return in regular session.

 

Line 12.010 currently shows an unencumbered balance of $3,237,244 remaining for emergency payment to the Guard. Again, we don’t yet know what the Governor will request for additional funding for the Guard, but this is a large remaining balance of funds available. Furthermore, in HB 8.290 you will see a remaining balance of $11,682,730 from an initial appropriation of $12,543,999 for responses to declared emergencies.  From our call Friday night it is my understanding that the Governor is not using these funds for either the Guard or Patrol for their Ferguson related activities.  After researching this issue and discussing it with appropriations staff,  I can find no apparent reason why the Governor cannot use this appropriation for either the Guard or Patrol given that he has declared a state of emergency in responding to Ferguson. The state of emergency may also mean potential federal funding is available to the Governor as well.

 

I know the Missouri Legislature has a strong commitment to the men and women of the Missouri National Guard and Missouri Highway Patrol, as well as to the citizens of Ferguson and surrounding areas, and will ensure all necessary resources are available for public safety. However, as you can see above, there appears to be substantial funds still available to the Governor for this purpose absent calling the Legislature back into special session for the sole purpose of appropriating more money for addressing the issues in Ferguson. With over $6.3 million on hand from the lines he’s been using, substantial funds available in the other lines he could use, and the fact that he only has to go about 40 more days before we could pass a supplemental budget early in the regular session, calling us back into special session appears to be unnecessary.

 

As we move forward in the coming week I anticipate we will receive an actual request and plan from the Governor.  We will provide all of you with additional information as it comes to us. Thank you.

 

Sen. Schaefer

 

Legislative Mood on Special Session

House Republican Staffer: “A lot of sentiment that governor needs special session as a distraction and already has both the resources and authority to spend.  This is a gov who carried over roughly $300 million last fiscal year…”

 

Senate Republican Staffer: “Calling this special session is the worst idea Nixon has had in his 6 years as governor…”

 

Senate Budget Leaders… Sen. Kurt Schaefer in a tweet to Sen. Ryan Silvey… “@KurtUSchaefer: @RyanSilvey do you happen to know much about the resale value of airplanes? King Air 250 for example…”   And: See the answer here.

 

House Democrat: “When we come back to special session Republicans are going to kick the hell out of Nixon for being incompetent.  The Black Caucus is going to kick the hell out of Nixon for ignoring the black community.  Maria Chappelle-Nadal will probably attempt to filibuster paying the guard… A headline of ‘Democrats black pay for soldiers’ is a real possibility.  Shaping up to be the worst week of press for Missouri Dems in recent memory.  What the hell is Nixon thinking?”

 

Maria Chappelle-Nadal on Facebook: Nurse, 1st responder, was trying to help a lady having a heart attack. Police tear gassed them and then pushed & started kicking the nurse. That's F'd up. And then Governor Nixon wants more $$. FUCK YOU, Governor Nixon!

 

When Will Special Session Be?

In neither his public comments nor his letter to legislators did Governor Jay Nixon give a date.  We’ll have to wait for the formal call.  But one observers thinks it’s coming soon.  “They will have to start pretty quickly if they want to get funding in the system by December 15.”

 

Tishaura Jones Ferguson Agenda

Former Rep. Tishaura Jones, now St. Louis City Treasurer, penned an op/ed about Ferguson. She concludes with a legislative agenda to cure some of the ills.  It includes:

Capping the amount of revenue municipal courts can bring into cities at 10 percent and closing municipal courts that fail to respect citizens’ constitutional rights; forgiving the existing warrants and cases for misdemeanors that either causes people to lose their jobs or prevents them from seeking future employment; bad officers losing their police certification for bad behavior instead of allowing them to jump to another department; paying workers a living wage so they can take care of themselves and their families; combining all 22 school districts into a single regional district; a new MetroLink line that connects residents in North County and South County to the urban core; economic development in blighted areas north of Delmar; financial vehicles to help families to build assets to save for the future of their children and emergencies instead of turning to predatory loan practices.

 

The Economist’s Ferguson Agenda

The Economist weighs in on Ferguson.  Read it here.  They suggest a number of small reforms: smaller cities should stop using courts as tax-collectors; federal government should stop enabling small police forces to buy military-grade weapons; proper gun control laws would help; body-mounted cameras; and resisting voter ID.

But the overall view is that “America’s race problem is increasingly one of class. Blacks’ biggest problem is now poverty... Solving the problems of places like Ferguson is less about passing more anti-discrimination laws than about rekindling economic growth and spreading the proceeds.”

 

Does This Mean Anything?

Sen. Scott Sifton amends his campaign committee to seek attorney general 2016 (see it here), and St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman amends his to seek Assessor 2018 (see it here).

 

Does This Mean Anything II?

Governor Jay Nixon is listed as #12 on GQ’s “least influential people.” Read it here.  “He's the governor of Missouri. Did you know that? Pretty sure the people of Ferguson don't. They think their governor is a very large tank.”

 

Cook: McCaskill Will Run for Guv

I have been cool to the hot gossip of US Senator Claire McCaskill running for governor.  I just don’t think it happens.  But here is guru Charlie Cook saying he expects it, so… we’ll see.  The question from one politico: “Do you think Tom Schweich will run for Governor if McCaskill does?  He covets a Senate seat. I wonder if he waits to see what she does.”

 

Pre-Filing Bills Starts Now…

Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar reminds everyone that today is the start of pre-filing legislation…

 

Silvey Hires Proctor

Sen. Ryan Silvey is hiring Joan Proctor to join his staff.  Proctor is currently the legislative assistant for Rep. Shelley Keeney.  Proctor also filled that role for Silvey for several years of his time in the House.  Proctor will take the place of Tammy Corrigan.

 

Brownback As Reagan

Just as President Ronald Reagan’s initial tax cuts were followed by tax increases to temper a ballooning deficit, so it appears that Governor Sam Brownback in Kansas is preparing for some tax hikes.  Read Steve Kraske’s column here.

 

Budget Woes

Post-Dispatch has two articles in the weeds of state budgeting.  First, there’s a cut coming to the pensions for blind people.  Read it here.  And then there’s a new costly Hep C drug that will squeeze the budget of the Department of Social Services.  Rep. Sue Allen is quoted.  See it here.

 

Bits

Bob Priddy is upset about plans for the Senate to move reporters’ offices and remove their press table on the Senate floor.  Read his critique here.  “We have not talked to all of our colleagues but we know some are, shall we say, in a state of great urinary agitation.”

 

Former Rep. Catherine Hanaway will be the special guest at Speaker Tim Jones’ Christmas Reception & Year End Celebration, Thursday, December 11, 2014, 6pm at the Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Wildwood, MO.

 

President Barack Obama prepping on the militarization of police issue? From today’s Presidential Schedule: 12:00PM  THE PRESIDENT meets with members of his Cabinet to discuss federal programs and funding that provide equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies; THE VICE PRESIDENT also attends. The Roosevelt Room. Closed Press.

 

Infanticipating… Rep. Caleb Jones (June 2015) and Rep. Elijah Haahr (January 2015, expecting twins)…

 

eMailbag on Drebes Pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts

Democrat: “Just wanted to say your piece on guns and urban areas is so dead on.  Could not agree more or add anything…”

Republican: “I think your views on guns are right on spot.  Unfortunately, with this GOP majority nothing will ever change. It will really take a GOP leader with courage to do something, also requires GOP leader to care about what is happening in STL/KC beyond what developer donations tell them to care about.”

Civvy: “Reading today's piece...your mood seems to match mine.  Musing, sad, a little angry, mostly sad. We're going to fix some of this.  We are.”

 

Changes in Lobbyist Registration

Jewell Patek added Alkermes Inc.

Steve Tilley added Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP; and deleted Full Employment Group LLC, Celgene Corporation, and Brightstar Franchising LLC.

Rodney Gray, Tami Holliday, Susan Henderson Moore deleted Truman State University.

Shawn D`Abreu added Missouri Centers for Independent Living (MOCIL).

 

$5K+ Contributions

Citizens for Colona - $6,000 from Simmons Hanly Conroy.

53rd Missouri House District - $6,368 from Grubb for the House.

 

Happy Birthday

Happy birthdays to Charlie Dooley, Joe Knodell (69), and Frank Plescia.