Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Ag Director?

Governor Jay Nixon will announce his new director of Agriculture today at 1pm.  Stay tuned…

I have no inside information, but if I had to take a dart-board guess, I’d go with former state senator Frank Barnitz.   Barnitz was mentioned a few months back as a possible successor by Missourinet (see it here).  And just recently his former aide, Tony Benz, started working for Dept of Ag as a legislative liaison.

But of course, we’ll see….

Regarding the Schweich TANF Audit

Jeanette Mott Oxford, Executive Director for Missouri Association for Social Welfare, fires back some questions after Auditor Tom Schweich’s finding that some TANF benefits were spent “questionably.”

 

1.  The combined questioned payments -- $722,000 out of approximately $117,180,000 in total benefits issued -- represents just 8/10ths of 1% of all payments.  That's probably a better track record than most state programs, including tax credits to “job creators.”

 

2.  “Exclusively out of state” use of cards needs more information before it should be taken as gospel.  For example, with much of our state population living close to a border (we are surrounded by eight states), a significant chunk could be attributable to people who live in

Missouri but bank and shop in Iowa (as Clark County residents often do), Illinois or Kansas, etc.  A few could also be living out of state to take care of a sick relative or for some other acceptable reason.

 

3.  The lack of state staff available to investigate clients means that a few people can beat the system.  The question becomes “how cost effective is it to spend a lot of money to save less than a part of penny out of every dollar?”

 

4.  The maximum lifetime Missouri benefit for a mom with two kids is $292 x60 months.  The average benefit is about $230 a month.  The unlucky few on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are not capable of robbing the state blind.

And For Some Perspective

It’s interesting to note that maximum lifetime benefit Oxford notes on point 4 is $17,520.  But the farm at which Nixon will announce his new Dept fo Ag director (see above) has received over $400,000 in subsidies since 1995.  See it here.

Nixon on Nicastro

PoliticMO’s Eli Yokley has Governor Jay Nixon’s statement on Chris NicastroSee it here.

Pull Quote: “The commissioner and I share the same goal: Making sure every Missouri student has access to a world-class education that prepares them for good jobs. The first thing you look at is whether or not folks in high positions share the same goals, and I’m confident that she shares those goals,” Nixon said, appearing to read from a prepared answer.

 

He went on to add, “in order to accomplish those goals, the commissioner needs the confidence of teacher and other education groups, and I’ve said that I thought the state board should continue to monitor and evaluate at the concerns that have been raised. You’re leading large groups of folks and they need to be involved in the process. There are a lot of things going on to deal with the issues that are out there.”

And

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal fires a warning shot via twitter:  ‏@MariaChappelleN: If @GovernorNixon supports Chris Nicastro, that means he supports liars. She is nothing less than a liar.

Silvey Bill

Sen. Ryan Silvey pre-filed his “border war” bill.  It’s an attempt to shut-down the practice of companies hopping the state line just to draw some incentives. See the bill here.

It defines the area; says no tax credits for businesses just hopping over from Kansas; and then has a “trust, but verify” position with Kansas to determine whether the ceasefire continues.

MEC Fines International Man of Mystery

The Missouri Ethics Commission fined Glenn Jamboretz $2,000 for a false “paid for” disclaimer and failure to file timely reports.  It’s a curious little case if you have five minutes to read it (here).

Jamboretz denies his involvement to the investigator.  The confronted with the evidence of his involvement, admits it, and describes himself as someone who “helps people of substance who prefer to stay behind the scenes.”

In this situation – the high-stakes race of Ward 1 of the City Council of Brentwood (population 8,035) – Jamboretz, presumably for these “people of substance,” used some rather odd tactics in addition to mailers without proper “paid for.”

He anonymously mailed Maureen Saunders, the candidate he was opposing, a copy of the novel The Caine Mutiny.  And then later jay of strawberries…  And then some marbles…

Saunders was apparently able to overcome this and won the election anyway.

Follow-Up on Student Transfer eMailbag

Reader 1: “That feedback ignores the fact that under the bill you can still transfer out of the district.”

Reader 2: “Hey as an FYI on Normandy, there are only 3 buildings in the district that are weighing down the scores on Normandy.  The assumption of the commenter is just wrong,  This issue is difficult enough – people shouldn’t work off assumptions when the facts are available.  There are times I wonder what’s the point of collecting all this test data if no one is using it and we gonna legislate by gut and stereotype.”

Follow-Up on Calling a Special Election

While the state statute says that the governor shall call special elections to fill vacancies “without delay,” if political push comes to legal shove, his lawyers will likely point to the constitutional provision dealing with special elections (Article III, Section 14. “Writs of election to fill vacancies in either house of the general assembly shall be issued by the governor.”) which does not say anything about “without delay.”

IPs Approved for Circulation

Two initiative petitions submitted by Grow Missouri’s Aaron Willard were approved for circulation by the secretary of state’s office.  They relate to reining in tax credits.  See the SOS’s press release here.

RTW Coming to MO?

AP’s David Lieb writes about the push for right to work across a few Midwestern states.  Read it here.

Pull Quote: In Missouri, Republican House Speaker Tim Jones has declared right-to-work a priority for the session that starts Jan. 8. Unions are hoping to quietly derail the measure in the Senate.  "Do we want to storm the Capitol and create a nuclear war if we don't have to? I would say, 'no.' But if that's what it takes, we certainly have the capabilities to do that," said Mike Louis, secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO.

Carter Sr. for House 76

 Chris Carter Sr. has started a campaign committee to run for House 76, currently held by Rep. Joshua Peters.   Carter Sr. is brother to the late St. Louis alderman, Greg Carter.  Former Rep., and now current alderman, Chris Carter, was nephew to Greg Carter.

Schaefer To Stay At Approps

Missouri Times reporter Collin Reischman asked Sen. Kurt Schaefer if he was planning to step down from Appropriations Chair in anticipation of this AG bid… the answer: no.  See Reischman’s tweet here.

The KC Squeak Gets Oiled

From the Kansas City Business Journal: “The Missouri Development Finance Board has stamped its approval on $2.25 million in tax credits for Union Station to encourage donors to take part in an improvement project officials hope to complete within three years.”  Read it here.

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

Matthew Block, Troy Stremming, and Victor R Scott II added River City Casino.

Mark J Bruns added Centene and Home State Health Care.

S. Dawn Nicklas added Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association.

$5K+Contributions

Missourians for Koster - $10,000 from Polsinelli.

KCS Rail-PAC – $20,000 from Kansas City Southern.

Birthdays

Happy birthday to Greg Porter.