Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Rumorville: Reagan to Exit St. Louis Chamber

A rumor circulating says that Joe Reagan will be stepping down from the St. Louis Regional Chamber.  Look for an announcement soon with Reagan to leave at the end of the month.

Reagan’s time at the organization was marked with staff turnover and intrigue after an anonymous letter leveled claims of deteriorating morale.

In the end, however, it’s likely that the string of deficits at the Chamber were as important to determining Reagan’s exit before the end of his contract as the staff drama.

The St. Louis Business Journal reported that Reagan’s 2016 compensation was $600,240 “down” from $771,879 in 2015.

 

Meet SHI International

I wrote last week about the rumor that World Wide Technology had lost the huge state technology contract which paid it over $500 million over the last decade.

A search of state contracts shows that SHI International (see the website here) is taking over the contract.  Wikipedia says that SHI is the largest woman-owned business in the United States.

According to the contract documents, at the time of the bit SHI International employed eight people who reside in Missouri…

 

Driving the Day

Today is Missouri’s LGBT lobby day, known as PROMO’s annual Equality Day. And this year also marks the 20th year that the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) has been introduced.  Listen to Rep. Greg Razer, the sponsor of MONA, talk to the mighty Jason Rosenbaum here.

 

Q&A #1: Are Historic Tax Credit On the Chopping Block?

Short answer: Sens. Rizzo, Nasheed, Holsman, Schatz, Schaaf, Dixon, Sifton, and Walsh.

 

Yesterday Sen. Dan Hegeman’s SB 590 hit the Senate floor.  It would reduce the cap on the historic tax credit program by half.

In the opening debate, eight senators from both parties stood and inquired of Hegeman because they had issues with some aspect of the bill.  Eight senators is a long way from the chopping block.

 

Debate Details

As a House member 20 years ago, Hegeman was on the conference committee that created the credit. Hegeman says the 1998 law’s fiscal note was about $20 million. As the number of credits grew, “I’ve lamented the fact we did not put a cap on that program.”

An annual cap of $140 million was put into place in 2010, but Hegeman wants to slash that in half to $70 million. He faced bipartisan resistance on Monday.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed told Hegeman the historic tax credits have been transformative for St. Louis neighborhoods and downtown areas such as Washington Avenue. Hegeman acknowledged that demand for the tax credits has reached the $140 million cap in recent years. “The demand may be there, but is the need really there?” he asked. Nasheed shot back: “Logically speaking, if we max out, what that means to me is…there is a demand.”

An ally, Sen. Andrew Koenig of St. Louis, asked: “Is it a function of the state to be fixing old buildings? …I would argue it doesn’t necessarily create a huge economic benefit to the state.”

Critics said that doesn’t recognize a successful track record of revitalizing neighborhoods. In his neighborhood of historic homes in Springfield, said Sen. Bob Dixon, the area around one house restored using the credits has seen multiple nearby properties restored, using all private funding plus bank loans with no use of the historic tax credits.

Barring use of the credits for private homes will provide no immediate revenue help for the state because credits aren’t issued until projects are finished and put into service, which can take several years. Meanwhile the state is in the hook to honor current credits, and it loses any immediate income tax revenues from job creation and sales and use taxes from materials purchases. “You’re not going to save anything for several years from now,” said Sen. Scott Sifton.

SB590’s decision-making about who receives the tax credits was also controversial. Hegeman acknowledged in explaining his bill: “It makes the Department of Economic Development run that program.” DED, of course, answers to whoever is governor. Senators of both parties said they preferred the current market-based approach, in which qualifying projects apply for the tax credits until the annual cap is reached. Otherwise, said Sifton, “You’re putting aside market forces in favor of Government Knows Best …putting the decision-making authority where this bill would put it is empowering government bureaucracy.”

Sifton and fellow Democratic Sen. Gina Walsh said the impacts not counted by REMI include huge increases in property values after restoration along with the resulting boosts in local property tax revenues. “The value of that house goes up, the property tax goes up,” Walsh said.

Hegeman repeatedly assured the critics he didn’t want to destroy the historic tax credits, and that he was open to their suggestions. One of his allies, Sen. Bob Onder, bemoaned that “these tax credit programs have become the Third Rail of Missouri politics” because of the intensity of forces both for and against.

And

A new potential Third Rail in the historic tax credit fight came up Monday on the editorial page of The Joplin Globe. In an op-ed, Bill Hart, executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation, noted that the mega-wealthy David Humphreys family of Joplin has donated money to buy and restore three magnificent historic homes ”as a guiding light” in the Murphysburg Residential Historic District.

Hart wrote: “The Humphreys are funding this project. But there are more than 180 other structures in the Murphysburg Residential Historic District, including about 125 single-family homes, some dating to the late 1800s. It benefits and protects both the Humphreys’ philanthropic projects and these scores of other properties to extend tools for house-by-house preservation efforts throughout the historic district.”

He did not mention, nor did he have to, that the Humphreys family is among Missouri’s largest and most prolific Republican funding sources – and why would GOP senators want to undermine the Humphreys’ investment in their hometown?

 

State Seeks New Pay Study

OA is seeking a contractor to “plan, design, and conduct a comprehensive compensation and benefits study utilizing external and internal data, and custom design and standard survey instruments… The contractor shall consider impacts of recent changes to existing laws and the consequences to recruitment, retention, and the appropriate number of state employees due to these changes…”

From the RFP: A report of state rankings for average annual employee pay was prepared utilizing several data sources and methodologies.  They consistently resulted in Missouri ranking either last or next to last.  There is some belief that while the pay for state employees is low, the benefits are outstanding.  There is no data that the Division of Personnel has readily available that either validates or disputes the value attributed to Missouri state employee benefits.

Major changes to the existing benefits packages, coupled with sporadic statewide salary adjustments, have made it more difficult to analyze the competitiveness of Missouri’s total compensation packages.  It has been generally agreed that there is no adequate current and comprehensive data upon which to base comparisons of the relative position of the various job classifications with respect to salaries or benefits offered in our competitive market.  A comprehensive compensation and benefits study would compare and analyze both the salary and benefit packages… The last time a comprehensive salary study was conducted in the State of Missouri was in 1984…

 

Black Apathy Ahead of 2018?

The St. Louis American has an interesting back-and-forth involving Rep. Bruce Franks describing how federal candidates can seem irrelevant to some in the black community.  See it here.

Pull Quote: I understand what you’re saying. I’m going to vote for Claire [McCaskill]. I so appreciate this question, but we have folks who don’t come from this particular community and don’t understand the barriers and challenges. They come in and they say, “Listen, we could lose a Senate seat.” And they’re telling us that we can lose a senator that we never knew existed because this person hasn’t shown up in our community. This person hasn’t spoken to our needs.

I understand that Claire votes good on some stuff and doesn’t vote good on other stuff. We can go back and forth on that all day. But when people start to bring up specifics, you try to telling that mother who lost her 14-year-old kid who doesn’t get to reap the benefits from anything that she’s voting for that you have to save this Senate seat – that you have to vote for this person… As a black man from a poor black community who voted for Jason Kander, who would vote for Jason Kander any day over Blunt: One thing I can tell you about Roy Blunt is Roy Blunt is the chair of appropriations. He appropriates the federal funding that comes down that funds Youth Build (a program that connects low-income youth with jobs and educational opportunities). The entire Youth Build program. One place Senator Blunt has always fought for and made sure we had funding was Youth Build in St. Louis…

 

Follow-Up on MPUA and Pole Attachment

MPUA rejects the criticism in yesterday’s MOScout.  One reader writes: “Your clip this morning on pole attachments is laughable. To think the not-for-profit municipal utilities are intimidating and bullying the likes of AT&T Verizon and Sprint along with the cable providers is a joke. The industry wants to cap fees at $25 per attachment when, unsolicited, they are paying up to $500 dollars now…”  And another called to say that they are very open to negotiating.

 

Bits

The potential gamechanger in the gun control debate is that this time around, the kids are leading it…  Emma González hopped on Twitter earlier this week.  Yesterday morning she had 8,000 followers.  This morning she has 107,000 followers.  Follow her here.

 

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal knocked off several bills (SB 871, SB 840, SB 757, and SB 660) because the sponsors signed a letter expressing “opposition to properly remedying this public health disaster that has killed, is killing, and, unless properly alleviated, will continue to kill my constituents….”

 

Publisher Hank Waters III takes a whack at Sen. Andrew Koenig’s SB 612, saying it “gives a 100 percent tax credit to anyone who makes an already tax deductible donation to a not-for-profit school. In some taxpayer calculations, this allows donors to receive more benefit than their donation totals… It’s fine for rich people to give money to private schools and other charities with agendas, but not to get refunds from the state tax larder…” See the editorial here.

 

Dems will choose their candidate for the Senate 17 special election on March 1.  Reps. Lauren Arthur and Mark Ellebracht are both seeking the nomination.

 

Rep. J Eggleston wants to do away with mandatory car inspections, saying the data doesn’t support it as a safety factor.  See it here.

 

eMailbag on 2018 Environment

Just saw an anti-Josh Hawley run by the Senate Majority Fund.  If they are so worried that the tax bill is gonna be a drag on Claire McCaskill that they are already running ads that's a good sign for Republicans. 2018 might not be as bad as the Rs think.

 

New Committees

Erica Hoffman formed a candidate committee to run for House 96 as a Democrat. The current incumbent is Rep. David Gregory.

27th Ward Democratic Organization was formed.  It’s a PAC.  Its treasurer is Tiffany Jones.

Wiley Price formed a candidate committee (Wiley Price For State Representative) to run for House 84 as a Democrat.  The current incumbent, Karla May, is termed

 

Help Wanted

St. Louis Business Journal seeks Reporter.  “Specifically, this reporter will cover commercial real estate and the business of sports, which includes everything from scoops about new construction, property sales and Ballpark Village development to savvy, important coverage of the executives, companies and characters who make up the industries. (We usually have baseball in October.)” See it here.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Scott Dieckhaus added Vivid Seats LLC.

Salvatore Panettiere added Kids Win Missouri, and HMS Host.

 

$5K+ Contributions

SHS PAC - $16,000 from Diamond Game Enterprises.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Doug Galloway, former Sen. Matt Bartle, and former Rep. Kenny Biermann.