Friday, April 27, 2012

Senate Perfects Change to Court Plan

Yesterday the Senate debated and perfected SJR51.  It would put a constitutional amendment to the voters to change the make-up of the appellate commission.  Read the Post-Dispatch article Here.


Unlike the original resolution which would have removed any lawyers from the commission, this one keeps three members of the bar and increases the number of “laypeople” to four.  Republicans argued that it would bring citizen control to the process.  And some senators who appeared to support the non-partisan court plan as it is nevertheless were willing to support this change as it would mitigate greater changes.


And the possibility that the “Better Courts” organization might once again try a ballot initiative in the absence of legislative action (and be more successful this time), may have prevented a full-out filibuster.



Foundation Formula

Documents from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show the great discrepancy between school districts in Missouri, in terms on where their funding comes from.


The reason the St. Louis County senators are reluctant to simply do a band-aid shift of funds from the hold-harmless districts to the formula districts is because they already are nearly entirely self-funding.


Parkway School District’s local taxes fund 92.6% of their budget with 4.5% coming from the state and 2.9% from the federal government;  Kirkwood District’s local taxes fund 91.8% of their budget; Lindbergh District’s local taxes fund 91.2% of their budget.


For comparison: Jefferson City’s district self-funds at 68.4% with 18.1% coming from the state and 13.5% from the feds.  St. Joseph’s district self-funds at 47.1%; Springfield’s district self-funds at 66.6%; Cape Girardeau self-funds at 66.8%.
And rural districts have a wide range but are nearly all lower.  For example here are some random districts and the portion of their budgets which comes from local taxes: Salem (36.5%), Kennett (31.9%), Ash Grove (42.1%), Fayette (51%), Troy (48.4%), Bolivar (38.9%), Eminence (37.7%).


The great divergence even within similar district-types is proof that the formula needs a major rewrite to become equitable again.




Campaign Missouri 1992

Money matters in statewide races.  It matters a lot.


I recently skimmed through Campaign Missouri 1992 by David Leuthold.  In it the principal players of the 1992 statewide campaign give their impression about what they did right and wrong, and why they won and lost.


You can’t read it without noting how important fundraising is to winning a statewide race. There are plenty of paragraphs about message and endorsements.  But the key paragraph in most races seems to hinge on whether they did or did not have enough money to do the extra week of television or hit back against an attack ad.


Tom Deuschle, campaign manager for Roy Blunt in the Republican gubernatorial primary: “First, and foremost, we knew we were going to be terribly outspent… When we went on television, the Webster campaign had already been on TV for eleven weeks, at least two of which were used to define us.”


Marc Farinella, campaign manager for Mel Carnahan, on the Democratic gubernatorial primary: “Newspapers don’t do it. Mail rarely does it. Radio doesn’t do much. Television is the name of the game. Had (Vince Schoemehl) spent all of those dollars on television, it would have been a much tighter race.”


What it Means

Attorney General Chris Koster’s mammoth money advantage over Ed Martin, Treasurer Clint Zweifel’s very sizeable head start over Rep. Cole McNary and Rep. Jason Kander’s ability bank significant cash without a primary make it look like a very good year for Democrats down-ballot.



St. Louis City Goes Google

From Mayor Francis Slay: “Our current email system – old and unreliable - hasn’t worked very well for a while. Employees have had many troubles accessing their emails and attachments or have experienced email outages and delays. When employees are not at their desks, it has been difficult for them to reach the email server from mobile devices or from computers outside of the network. All of these challenges have hampered our ability to respond to citizens efficiently – or, even, to hear from them…


“After evaluating several competitive bids, the City of St. Louis has selected cloud-based Google Apps for Government because it best suits our needs for a reliable, secure, and cost-effective email system. Our employees will be able to access email reliably at their desks and will be able to stay connected, anytime and anywhere. This will likely make them more productive; it will certainly make them happier.”



Three State Rep Candidates Bounced

“The Commission determined that the candidates listed below failed to file a Personal Financial Disclosure statement… Accordingly…  the candidates are disqualified from August 7, 2012 election pursuant to Section 105.492.2, RSMo.”


Samir Ramesh Mehta, Representative Candidate District 84.

Janine Elizabeth Steck, Representative Candidate District 59.

Ethel Mae Young, Representative Candidate District 75.


What These Mean

Nothing much actually. Mehta is a Republican running in a safe Democratic district in St. Louis City.  Steck is a Libertarian (running in Bernskoetter district).  And Young was an also-ran in the battle between Reps. Sylvester Taylor and Rochelle Walton Gray.




Lindenwood econ professor says angel tax credits don’t work.  Read it Here.



In a “jobs election” it’s bad news for Dems this morning with GDP growth slowing to 2.2%



My memory was nudged by a reader who recalled that the reason that attorney general Chris Koster was on the Plaster turnkey hunt the other day might have to do with his willingness to stand up and help filibuster the Senate effort to stop the “village law” in the waning days of Rod Jetton’s speakership.



Springtime officially started Wednesday in the Senate with Sens. Jason Crowell, Mike Kehoe and Eric Schmitt all sporting the seersucker suits.



Lobbyists’ Principals Changes

From the Pelopidas website:


Mike Gibbons and Tricia Workman added AEG Kansas City Arena LLC

Adella Jones deleted Metro.



$5K+ Contributions

Missouri Senate Campaign Committee - $10,000 from Committee to Elect Ron Richard.

Clean Water STL - $8,791 from Dierbergs Markets Inc.

Lewis & Clark Regional Leadership Forum - $12,000 from Stone, Leyton & Gershman.

MO Republican Party - $9,851 from Dave Spence.




Happy birthday to Sen. Ryan McKenna (39), and Rep. Tony Dugger.
Saturday: Ameren’s Tina Shannon and former Rep. Brian Yates (37).


Sunday: Former Rep. Belinda Harris (61).