Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nixon Cool to Transport Tax

Governor Jay Nixon came out against the transportation sales tax yesterday.

“We can all agree on the need for a robust discussion… On the heels of this headlong rush to provide special breaks and carve-outs for the wealthy and well-connected, members of the General Assembly are now attempting to raise taxes on all Missourians.  The burden of this $6.1 billion sales tax increase would fall disproportionately on Missouri's working families and seniors by increasing the cost of everyday necessities like diapers and over-the-counter medication, while giving the heaviest users of our roads a free pass.  If this effort is successful, Missouri will have the dubious distinction of being a state that, in a matter of months, cut taxes on lawyers and lobbyists, but hiked taxes on bar soap and baseball gloves.


“I cannot in good conscience endorse a $6.1 billion tax hike on Missouri families and seniors when special interests and the wealthy are being showered with sweetheart deals.  This tax hike is neither a fair nor fiscally responsible solution to our transportation infrastructure needs and it does not have my support.”

Kehoe Hot At Nixon

This angered the chief legislative architect of the proposal, Sen. Mike Kehoe

“The governor flies around the state on a brand-new, tax-payer funded airplane so it is no wonder he does not know the status of Missouri’s roads and bridges.  His opposition to the transportation funding ballot measure demonstrates that he is clueless about the current state of Missouri’s transportation infrastructure.  It also confirms, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the governor is anti-jobs…


“Nearly thirty years ago, a different governor, of a different party understood the great importance of transportation infrastructure and worked with a legislature of the opposite party to increase transportation funding.  Governor Ashcroft will go down in history as one of the state’s most conservative governors, yet he led on transportation issues.  Governor Nixon has lived off the tax-payer dime his entire adult life, and it has become increasingly clear to Missourians that he simply does not know how to lead.  Politics and leadership are not synonymous…”

And They’re Polling

Supporters for the transportation tax are in the field polling.  Given Nixon’s opposition, if these numbers come back limping, one legislator thinks the coalition might cut their losses and not even wage a campaign.  We’ll see…

General outline of the poll:

  1. Registered to vote?
  2. Consider yourself a Democrat, Republican or Independent?
  3. Will you vote in the primary?  Definitely, Probably, 50-50?
  4. Missouri on right track or wrong direction?
  5. Favorable / Unfavorable on Barack Obama, Jay Nixon, Claire McCaskill, Missouri Chamber, MODOT, your state representative, the state legislature.
  6. How will you vote on the sales tax?  Leaning that way or definitely?
  7. Why?  (Open-ended question)
  8. Rate as Excellent, Good, Not So Good or Poor on Missouri economy, state of highways, state of transportation, MODOT.
  9. Reasons make you more likely or less likely to vote for the tax?  No toll roads, expires in 10yrs, no gas tax increase, prioritizes unsafe roads, food and utilities exempt from the tax, citizens create project list, and MODOT must complete the projects.
  10. Arguments convincing or not?  Money must be used for transportation, Will create 100,000 new jobs, Tax only amounts to 8 cents on a $10 purchase, If not this then other taxes will have to go up, Roads will be less safe without it.
  11. Re-asking the question: Now, do you think you’d vote for it?
  12. What’s the best reason listed to vote for it?
  13. Do you support or oppose these projects? Improving roads, replacing unsafe bridges, expand light rail, expand rural roads, expand bus service, widen I-70 to 3 lanes, roads in St. Louis, rumble strips and safety designs, bike paths and sidewalks, separate lanes for trucks.
  14. Age, education level, political leaning, tea party member, labor union member, how long daily commute, how commute, ethnicity.

Hancock Irrelevant?

Reading Auditor Tom Schweich’s report yesterday on state revenues as they relate to the so-called “Hancock Amendment” in the state constitution, I couldn’t help but wonder whether that bane of liberal policy-makers has lost its sting.

The report (see it here) relates that we are nowhere near the automate refunds mandated by Hancock should state revenues exceed their limit.  “Mathematical formulas are used to determine the relevant threshold amounts each year.  The Hancock Amendment limits the amount of Missourians' personal income that may be used to fund state government to no greater than the portion used to do so in 1981. In other words, since 5.6 percent of Missourians' personal income went to fund state government in 1981, then no more than 5.6 percent can be used to do so in future years, unless revenues are specifically excluded by a vote of the people… For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013… total state revenue was approximately $3.6 billion under the refund threshold… The revenue limit has not been exceeded since the year ended June 30, 1999.”

The report also notes that “the Hancock Amendment also requires voter approval before taxes or fees can be increased by the General Assembly beyond a certain annual limit. Based upon the calculation provided by the Office of Administration, Division of Budget and Planning, the relevant annual revenue limit for fiscal year 2012 was $84.2 million.”

Senate 24 Support

Jo Mannies does a review of who’s backing who in the Senate 24 race.  Read it here

The two most interesting bits were a mention of “Team Rex” coming in for Republican Jay Ashcroft, and that Democrat Jill Schupp has lassoed the support of Bill Danforth, brother to former US Senator Jack Danforth, a Republican.

Meanwhile, on Facebook former state senator Jim Lembke gave his endorsement to Ashcroft: “This guy gets it! It is all about freedom and the opportunity to pursue happiness.”

I think a swing district like Senate 24, Schupp is positioning herself better by grabbing cross-over support, but Republicans have two other considerations.  First, Ashcroft does have to win the primary; and second, they seem less concerned about the make-up of the November voters.  For starters the district is slightly more Republican than when John Lamping squeaked past Barbara Fraser in 2010.  And the non-presidential turnout is expected to diminish Democratic turnout somewhat.  Still Schupp is the favorite here.

Peters for Azerbaijan

On Buzzfeed there’s an article (read it here) about the Azerbaijans’ “bizarre” lobbying efforts of state legislatures…

Azerbaijan has launched an unusual campaign to win influence among U.S. lawmakers, teaming up with a Turkish guru in exile and the sister of Texas governor Rick Perry, as it seeks to translate its immense oil wealth into political support.  Since early 2013, state legislators in 17 states have introduced resolutions or memorials relating to the former Soviet republic.  Most are general statements of support, or recognition of the 1992 Khojaly massacre, one of the most violent and controversial incidents in Azerbaijan’s war with neighboring Armenia… The initiatives — brought in Utah, New Mexico, Tennessee, Kansas, South Dakota, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Illinois, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Hawaii — play well domestically in Azerbaijan…

In Missouri the resolution was filed by Rep. Josh PetersSee it here.  But I couldn’t find any lobbyist registration that would fit with this.

White House: MO Impact on Carbon Controls

The White House issued a press release detailing some of the local impact of their emission cuts plan…

“In 2012, 25 million metric tons of carbon pollution were emitted from power plants in Missouri — equal to the yearly pollution from over 5 million cars. In addition to reducing a portion of this carbon pollution, EPA’s guidelines will also cut other forms of air pollution like soot and smog. In the first year of the program alone, these reductions will provide important health protections nationally, including preventing 100,000 asthma attacks in children and young adults and avoiding 1,800 – 4,270 premature deaths and up to 2,100 heart attacks. Missouri residents will benefit from a share of these national health protections.”

Rails to Trails Cha Ching

Last week’s Kansas City Business Journal had an interesting article about a KC law firm that’s been very successful in a legal niche.  They call it “rails to trails” litigation.  “The cases stem from (a 1983 law allowing) railroad companies to transfer unwanted lines to others so they could be converted into recreational walking and bike trails.  However, after that legislation, owners claimed that the federal government didn’t adequately compensate them for easements on their land.”  The latest of twenty-six lawsuits Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice, L.L.C. have won was a $141 million settlement.  Their take was “a little more than $35 million.”  Yowza.

Interestingly, the only large campaign contribution I could find in the Missouri Ethics Commission database was one single $10,000 check in 2012 to the Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts Committee.  That was the committee to fight to keep Missouri’s “non-partisan” court plan.

Zimmerman Wins Award

The American Jewish Congress St. Louis Chapter will honor the Zimmerman Family (Stuart and Susie, St. Louis County Assessor Jake and Megan, Andrew and Marya).  They’ll be receiving the 23rd Annual Netzach Award on June 9 for their commitment to social justice, civic duty, education and Israel.

Filing News

Bryan Pinette filed to run as a Democrat in House 63.  The late filing is occurring because the previous Democrat withdrew. Pinette is – according to LinkedIn – a secretary/treasurer with the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers.  The current incumbent is Republican Bryan Spencer.


Golf Season

A look at Mary Scrugg’s indispensable events calendar shows that we’re about to enter the golf season…

Next week Reps. Dave Hinson, Ed Schieffer, Paul Wieland, Noel Shull, TJ Berry and TJ McKenna all have golf fundraising events, as well as Sen. Doug Libla.

Fundraising Calendar

Today’s fundraising events from Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger Golf – St. Peters Golf Course – 11a.m. tee-off.

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Gate Way Group website:

Jim Cooper deleted Mercy Health System.

Mell Henderson deleted Mid-America Regional Council.

F. Chase Simmons deleted Kansas Unified Development LLC, Lane 4 Property Group LLC, Vanturst Real Estate LLC, Hanna Land Acquisition LLC, Star Development Corporation, LTD Enterprises LLC, Soccer Village Properties LLC, and Superior Bowen.

Robin Zellers deleted Missouri Child Care Resource and Referral Network.

Monica June Mayer, MPH, and Michele Meyer deleted Merck Sharp and Dhome and its Affiliates.

$5K+ Contributions

Gandhi for Prosecutor - $10,000 from Burwell Industries Inc.

SmartKC - $20,000 from Missourians for Responsible Government.


Happy birthdays to former Reps. Ward Franz (51) and Ray Weter (69), Kander’s Abe Rakov, and former fundraiser Lynda Brotherton.