Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Today Elections

Earning Tax

Missouri’s two coastal cities will vote today to retain their earning taxes.  They’re both expected to pass, although the vote could be narrower in Kansas City.  According to the ballot initiative, which voters approved last year, this will become a semi-decennial ritual until the Rex Sinquefield position of phasing out the tax prevails.




Former state representative Vicki Englund is on the ballot today for Lindbergh School Board.  After losing her re-election to Rep. Cloria Brown, this might be place from which to run again for the state House in the future…




In St. Louis Rep. Jake Zimmerman makes the jump to St. Louis County Assessor today.  Tea Party folks have been hot for Chip Wood, the Republican candidate.  But there’s little doubt after the past two months of campaigning that the GOP would have been better off fielding veteran Gene McNary to face off against Zimmerman.


By the 8-Day reports, Zimmerman had spent over $300,000 with another $114,000 still on-hand for the final push.  Wood has spent about $25,000 and had $12,000 left.



The Meaning of Jake Zimmerman

Zimmerman’s ascension to a County-wide office (the state’s most populous county) is more than just a stepping-stone political move.  Well, it is.  But it’s also a symptom for the ailing Democratic minority in Jefferson City.


Zimmerman was a prodigious fundraiser, a witty debater, and a serious voice within the Caucus and on his committees, like Utilities.  But given the pummeling Democrats took last cycle – losing 13 seats – there was really no political future for him in the Capitol. 


By contrast, if Rep. Todd Akin’s congressional seat opens up, watch the candidate list.  There’s more likely to be a flood of second-tier candidates (a Loudon, a colonel…) on the Republican side than top-tier ones.  That’s because the best pols already have a future in Jefferson City.  Reps. Tim Jones will be Speaker next cycle; Rep. Rick Stream is in line for Budget Chair; Rep. John Diehl is on a path for Speaker the cycle beyond.  Others have committee chairmanships instead of a long-shot race.


Now Zimmerman surely saw the bleak situation before last November.  As I’ve written before, he retained his enormous war-chest last cycle, making only modest contributions to the HDCC’s efforts to win (or not lose) seats.


Talent drain is a serious problem for the Democratic Caucus.  Why run for office or re-election, if you’re just going to spend eight-years in a minority with no power and no voice?  Unless there’s a state senate seat in your future, you have no future.


When Tony’s KC says that Jackson County Prosecutor is a dead-end route for Rep. Jason Kander (read it here), one wonders if Jefferson City is any more full of possibilities?



Kinder Bits

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder did the softball radio circuit decrying the Post-Dispatch article as a “search-and-destroy mission” and a “contract hit piece.”  The reviews: dude needs to grow a chin.  He hyperventilates himself off a cliff over this, what happens when they hit him on something substantive?



The Missouri Democratic Party’s press release on Kinder included the ill-written line “it’s unconscionable to think that Peter Kinder is asking Missouri taxpayers to pay for his odd and extravagant lifestyle.”   


I’ll leave aside from my personal style sense of avoiding repetition except in poetry or speeches (“taxpayers paying” sounds redundant to the ear). 


Pushing the word “odd” into the description of Kinder’s lifestyle was a mistake.  It’s presumably a reference to Kinder’s middle-aged singlehood.  And while that sort of cultural winking – he’s not one of us – may be the place to which politics has descended, go too far down that road, and you alienate pieces of your base.



Congressional Bits

The Senate Redistricting Committee released its map.  See it Here


As mentioned yesterday, the map shares many characteristics of the House map.  Reps. Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan are merged into the new St. Louis City district.  Rep. Sam Graves’ district still spans the entire top of Missouri.  Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s district has the same shape, and the others start at their corners and work inward to carve up Mid-MO.


However, St. Charles and St. Louis Counties get diced differently, and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson’s district heads west instead of north.



Multiple sources indicate that Rep. Russ Carnahan is revving up to run in the new St. Louis City congressional district against Rep. Lacy Clay.  It’s a coin-toss race at this point, but the clear loser is race relations.  Add to the combustible mix, aldermanic redistricting which will presumably uproot at least one north-side ward to the south-side.  The racial cross-currents will complicate Mayor Francis Slay’s effort to steer the city’s re-entry into St. Louis County.



Notice how little people are talking about Ann Wagner and Todd Akin right now?  Their delayed announcements haven’t bought them any suspense or pent-up interest.  People have meandered into other gossipy nooks.   Note to pols: the spotlight doesn’t follow you off stage; entertain us!



Senate Bits

Sen. Eric Schmitt’s SB 390 will find some floor time today.  He’s worked hard to prepare, but it faces one very large challenge.  The price-tag.  The counter argument: if this works, and the tax credit caps ($480 million) are hit, the result will be so transformative that no one will be worried about lost revenue.



News reports say that Pro Tem Rob Mayer and Floor Leader Tom Dempsey are still working to pass the unemployment benefits.  One suggestion floated is to bring to the floor on Thursday, and stay until it passes.  Because law-makers usually have events (or family reunions) planned for Thursday evening that could raise the pressure on Sen. Jim Lembke & Co to find a compromise. 



Senate Republican leaders said that Governor Jay Nixon is engaged in the unemployment benefits problem – that and the Compete Missouri program.  His short list of priorities matches the governor’s action this session: almost completely reactionary and mostly irrelevant.  The low-profile makes the veto guessing game all the more interesting.



Tax Revenues

Yesterday, the March revenues were released. They were up 9.2% over the same month a year ago.  Fiscal year to date (we’re three-quarters through the year), revenues are up 6.5%. The revenue estimate was 3.6%.


Budget director Linda Lubbering cautioned that sales tax revenue was weak.  Aside from a long-term trend of consumers migrating to on-line retailers, there’s nothing worrisome in a one-month decline in one component of the state’s receipts.


This is what a recovery looks like.  All recoveries are uneven.  The trend is clear, and the state will clearly exceed the revenue estimate this year.


This is happening everywhere.  Read the WSJ’s front-page article from last week Here.


Luebbering is playing mouse with reporters perhaps because of the constitutional issue I’ve written about previously, perhaps because folks get shell-shocked after living through back-to-back years of revenue declines.



Lobbyist Principal Changes

From the Pelopidas website:


James C. Bowers, Jr. added Hunt Midwest Real Estate, and Summit on Pryor Development; and deleted Ariane Kemper, Trickortreat Inc, Gavin Bargate, Johnny’s Tavern, Tri-Jen Partners LLC, CKC Holdings LLC, Waterway Gas & Wash Company, D.M. Enterprises, and Hunt Midwest.


Doyle Childers and Richard McIntosh added UPCO.


Don Stamper added Boone Quarries, and Columbia Redi Mix Inc.


Marvin Freeman deleted Viva Vox.


Kristian Starner deleted The Missouri Bar.


Luann Madsen and Phil Wright added Gallagher Consultants LLC.  


Stephen Walker added The Beenders Walker Group.



$5k+ Contributions

MO Chamber PAC - $7,500 from Anheuser Busch.

Citizens for Swinger - $16,000 from Terry Swinger.