Monday, January 29, 2018

Q&A #1: Are Tough Budget Years The New Normal?

Short answer: Yup.


Between the growth of health care costs, and the Republican mantra of lowering taxes, the state of Missouri will have tough budget years for the foreseeable future.

Post-Dispatch reported over the weekend on the issue of increased Medicaid spending.  See it here.

Same finger-pointing from the governor’s budget summaryAlthough there has been an aggressive effort over the past year to reign in wasteful spending and make state government more efficient, some costs continue to rise… Health care costs paid by the government continue to skyrocket. Obamacare has still not been repealed, and the cost of health care continues to rise. Taxpayers pay more and more for government health care every year with little or no improvement in results.

Meanwhile, as demonstrated in a hand-out from a recent budget hearing, there have been a series of public policy decision which have tempered state revenue. The 2014 tax cut is expected to reduce state revenues by $240 million this year, and a 2016 change in how stock options are taxed will create another $10 million hit.

Let’s not be naïve: this is the way fiscal conservatives want government to operate.  When government is flush with cash it has a propensity to fund new programs, expand existing ones, and generally grow the scope of government.  When things are tight, there’s a constant focus on looking for savings and tough-minded prioritizing.

But… when government is constantly starved, tackling the bigger issues – like transportation funding – become so daunting as to be nearly impossible.


Greitens Starts Tax Tour

The previously postponed roll-out of the governor’s tax reform plan start today…

Macon - Economy Products – 10AM.

Palmyra – Doyle Manufacturing – 1:30PM.

Jackson – Signature Packaging – 4PM.


Springfield – Arrowhead Building Supply – 10AM.

Joplin – Lozier – 2PM

Kansas City - U.S. Farathane – 4:30PM.


Governor Eric Greitens has to do this.  He has to get out and at least go through the motions of being a governor.  The only way to get through this is to get through it.

But one reader warns… “The statewide tour is risky. Folks are usually polite outstate but they may be grim. The Poplar Bluff stop was cancelled because the host Briggs & Stratton cancelled it and it hasn’t been rescheduled; same scenario for the former St. Peters stop. They’ve cobbled together more stops, but if you look back at all the stories about the stops being rescheduled, they all say why: AFFAIR….”

For example, he says, look at this story on the stop in Macon on KMZU-FM “The Farm,” a widely-heard agri-format station broadcasting across rural western Missouri from Carrolton.  It’s sentence number two.  “Missouri Governor Eric Greitens will visit Macon Monday morning. The stop is part of a statewide tour that was postponed after information was released about the governor’s extramarital affair…”


It’s easy to forget this inside the building where people are transactional, tolerant and pragmatic, but… photographing your half-naked hairdresser taped to the exercise equipment is something from the hippie-dippie, wife-swappin, Californin’ liberal stereotype, not the God-fearing, family values, social conservatives who make up the base of the Republican Party.  It being a “private matter” won’t keep the sideways look from happening.


Senator Claire McCaskill understands this.  See it here.


Galloway Finds Signature Issue

Auditor Nicole Galloway has found a potent issue in highlighting the flaws in the state’s execution of issue tax refunds.  The issue is in her political sweet spot.  It’s fiscally conservative, taxpayer-friendly, and there seems to be plenty for her to talk about on the issue.  It’s generating free press, and now has a legislative angle…

Demanding that Missouri taxpayers be given a level playing field, State Auditor Nicole Galloway on Thursday said she supports legislation requiring the state to pay the same interest rate on late income tax refunds that taxpayers must pay if they are late with their income tax payments. The provision is in House Bill 2165, filed this week by state Rep. Lauren Arthur, of Kansas City.

The inequity between the interest rate paid by the state (0.7 percent) and that required of taxpayers (4 percent) was one of many issues highlighted by a report released this month by Auditor Galloway. The audit found that refunds to taxpayers are being increasingly delayed by the administration….

The number of late refunds has increased over the last several years, but worsened in 2017 with 155,000 refunds paid with late interest, an increase of 86 percent. That is in addition to the number of refunds paid late with no interest, which was at least 400,000….



Sen. Jamilah Nasheed amended her campaign committee to run for St. Louis City President of the Board of Aldermen.  See it here.  She is term limited in the Senate.


President Donald Trump is appointing Seth Daniel Appleton to be an Assistant Secretary (Policy Development and Research) of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mr. Appleton currently serves as an Acting Assistant Secretary and General Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he manages the Department’s congressional and intergovernmental relations.  He previously served as a senior staff member in the United States House of Representatives, most recently as chief of staff for United States Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri from 2009 to 2017…


Former Speaker Tim Jones’ spirited defense of Governor Eric Greitens has some folks think he might get bumped up a few spots on the short list for AG if Josh Hawley beats Claire McCaskill and Greitens has that appointment to make….


Rep. Phil Christofanelli writes on Facebook… “I received some fantastic news today! Along with admission to Loyola Chicago School of Law, I’ve received the Thomas More Scholarship which will cover nearly 70% of my tuition. The program is structured similar to an executive MBA, so I will be attending my classes every other weekend in Chicago starting in August. Worry not, I will be maintaining my seat in the Legislature and will still be running for re-election. Y’all aren’t rid of me yet. I’m looking forward to starting this new chapter!”


And LG Mike Parson’s twitter-feed shows COO Drew Erdmann also in Hawaii.  See it here.  So, who’s running the state???



“Twenty years ago this week Republicans gathered for Lincoln Days, determined to restore honor and morality to the White House in the wake of revelations about Clinton and Monica. Will be interesting to see if any Republicans make similar statements regarding the Governor's mansion this weekend.”


Help Wanted

Department of Revenue seeks Director of Human Resources and Total Rewards. “This position will be responsible for numerous programs and the day to day management of the Department’s Human Resources Program. This position will assist the Division Director of Administration in planning and developing professional HR initiatives including diversity, recruitment, retention, training, leadership, rewards, and other programs. This position will assist in providing the leadership necessary to execute Department initiatives and lead staff in overseeing, planning, and coordinating Human Resource services… This is an unclassified administrative, policy-making classification whose primary responsibility is administration and supervision of operations in an assigned bureau with the department. Employees in this class can be expected to participate in the decision-making process on confidential and policy matters, and exercise considerable discretion and independent judgment regarding issues that apply to the bureau… Salary: $2,916 - $3,333…”  See the ad here.


This Week’s Events

Tuesday – MAVO Veterans Legislative Rally at Capitol at 8AM.

Tuesday – NORML Legislative Day at Capitol.

Tuesday - Missouri Preservation and the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Lobby Day at Capitol.

Tuesday – WGU Day at the Capitol.

Wednesday - Mo SHRM Legislative Advocacy Day at Capitol.

Wednesday – American Planning Association Day at the Capitol.

Wednesday – Indivisible Missouri Day at the Capitol.

Wednesday - The Future of Policing in St. Louis at Missouri History Museum at 5:30PM.

Thursday – Lindsay Rowden for School Board Kick-off – Cork – 5:30PM

Friday – Start of Lincoln Days.


Lobbyists Registrations

Aaron Baker and Kristian Starner added Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.

James Harris added Missouri Bail Association.

Kyna Iman added The Nature Conservancy.

Mark Reading added Association of Active and Retired Missouri State Employees.

David Winton and Jessica Petrie added HPRA.

Scott Penman, David Winton and Kaycee Nail deleted County of Boone, Netchoice, and Lenovo USA.

Scott Penman deleted Missouri Retailers Association.

David Sweeney deleted SC STL, and Missouri Clean Energy District / Renovate America


$5K+ Contributions

Citizens for Steve Stenger - $10,000 from Diane Sullivan.

RSLC-Missouri PAC - $10,000 from Republican Leadership Committee.

House Republican Campaign Committee Inc - $10,000 from RSLC-Missouri PAC.

House Republican Campaign Committee Inc - $8,100 from Friends of Todd Richardson.

Citizens for Jeff Coleman - $18,000 from Jeffrey Coleman.

We Are Missouri - $150,000 from UFCW Local No. 88 Meat Cutters Union.

New Approach Missouri - $7,500 from Harold E Arnold Revocable Trust.

New Approach Missouri - $7,500 from Jack Ryan Painting LLC.

New Approach Missouri - $5,001 from Michael Freelander.



Happy birthdays to Rep. Craig Redmon, former Reps. Tommie Pierson and Wayne Bledsoe, Brian Schmidt, Rory Riddler and Allison Bruns.