DOR: Revenues “Stabilizing”
Department of Revenue director Joel Walters told the House’s Government Oversight Committee that state revenues were “stabilizing.” Tax returns were coming in later than previous years and refunds were lower. Both those indicators are consistent with what he expects given the upheaval in the tax code. Walters still thinks that the state will hit its consensus revenue number.
During the hearing, Walters and DOR liaison Mark Siettmann tried to differentiate between the withholding tables error and new interplay of W-4 exemptions with the Trump tax cut. Both seemingly failed to grasp that the distinction is lost on Missourians who face tax bills instead of tax refunds. The bottom-line is same: the department was too slow to understand how the change in the tax code would impact Missourians, and then mostly mute once they did.
Senate Perfects LIHTC Compromise
The Senate perfected Sen. Dan Hegeman’s SB 28 which deals with the state’s low-income housing tax credit. Governor Mike Parson had said that he wanted the legislature to reform the program before he allowed the state credits to be given out again – after Eric Greitens had essentially stopped the program.
The only “reform” in Hegeman’s bill is to decrease the amount of money that will be allocated to the program. It lowers the cap on state credits from its previous limit of 100% of the federal credits to 72.5%. That was the compromise which resulted from a three-hour filibuster between those who wanted the cap to be 70% and those who wanted it to be 75%.
The final perfection vote was 34-0. That means a 3rd read vote will be uneventful, but more importantly, it will send the compromise to the House with a strong message of Senate solidarity.
What It Means
The filibuster was first official coordinated floor action by the Senate’s new “conservative caucus.”
· Freshmen Sens. Eric Burlison and Cindy O’Laughlin participated in their first filibuster.
· The conservative bloc of senators took the compromise which showed that they were reasonable and could identify an exit. It’s a key ingredient to a filibuster. One lobbyist said it will be the difference between a “conservative caucus” and a “chaos caucus.” The former is trying to improve legislation, the latter is trying to muck up the process.
· This felt like a trial run for the group. And it serves as a bit of a warning shot on issues which they have been vocal – like PDMP.
GOP Preps for 2020
Political proxies from every statewide elected Republican and the House and Senate Republican campaign arms (and a few statewide electeds) met yesterday afternoon in Jefferson City for their first organizing meeting for the 2020 cycle. Attendees report that every campaign was in attendance, an impressive early show of statewide unity and an achievement by Governor Mike Parson, given recent history. The assumption from the group is that Missouri won’t be a target Presidential state and Republicans will have to carry their own water without outsized national support. Representatives from the Governor told the room they plan to raise $25 million for the cycle. The meeting was chaired by Gregg Keller, recently tapped to run the Missouri Victory Committee.
Republicans continue to strategize about how to overturn Clean’s redistricting. There’s internal debate whether to pass the resolution for the 2020 vote this session or next session.
Aware that the issue could blow up the Senate, one avenue is to wait until next session so the governor’s agenda is unaffected.
But the case for doing it this session is to give the campaign more time to organize and raise money ahead of 2020.
GOPers are expecting that CLEAN’s original backers will marshal their resources and fight a pitched battle against their proposal. Some they want more time to raise money.
Butz Offers Bonding Alternative
Rep. Steve Butz has filed a bill (see it here) to raise the gas tax by two cents a year for the next five years.
He’s offering it as an alternative to the governor’s plan of issuing debt. Butz points out his plan would save $100 million in interest that the governor’s plan incurs. “Interest payments will not rebuild one road or bridge. If we could make the analogy of a 15-year mortgage we could pay for our ‘home’ with cash over 5 years paying no interest OR we could commit to a 15-year mortgage with a rate of 3.5%. I think most of us would choose the former…”
O’Laughlin Struggles with Rules
Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin participated in her first filibuster yesterday – and got gaveled a couple of times for accidentally referring to other senators by name. That’s a Senate rules no-no.
Missouri Senate rules are modeled on US Senate rules. They are designed to focus the debate on the debate – not on the personalities. It’s hard for things to devolve into name-calling when you’re not allowed to say someone’s name to begin with.
It’s the same reason that senators don’t face each other in debate; they face the dais. It invites a calmer disposition.
Green Also Gets SEIU
I goofed yesterday when I said Jamilah Nasheed got the SEIU endorsement. She did. But it was a dual endorsement of both her and Alderwoman Megan Green.
Post Dispatch reports that incumbent Lewis Reed is seeking to have Nasheed thrown off the ballot because of her name… See it here.
In a letter delivered Wednesday to the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, Reed’s chief of staff Tom Shepard says Nasheed’s name should be removed from the March 5 primary ballot.
“Per the city charter, Jamilah Nasheed does not meet the qualifications to run for President of the Board of Aldermen because Jamilah Nasheed is not a legal name that has been assessed taxes in the City of St. Louis,” Shepard said in the letter.. The Reed campaign initially pointed to the tax record of a rental property belonging to Nasheed that lists “Jenice Williams” as the owner. On another property record, both names — Jenice Williams and Jamilah Nasheed — appear… Nasheed’s camp decided to not only clarify Nasheed’s legal name, but to question Reed’s.
They provided a reporter a photo of a yearbook page from Reed’s high school in Joliet, Ill. Next to Reed’s photo: “Louis Reed.”
So did Reed change his first name from Louis to Lewis? Shepard said it was likely a misspelling.
“I can’t say 100 percent sure” that Reed’s first name is not Louis. “I just know that’s not true. What would be the point?”
Prayers for Goodman
Rep. Peter Merideth on Facebook… “Please send your love and major prayers to my boss lady in the Capitol, Kennette Goodman. Some of you may know she’s been going through some awful health struggles again the last few months (or you may have wondered why she hasn’t been at the office, or why I might seem to be a mess occasionally with communications and scheduling!). She’s gotten some even more terrifying news this week and her journey is about to get even tougher. Kennette has always been tough as nails, but she’s been facing more than any of us ever should have to. Y’all know she’d climb mountains for any of us, and she’s got another mountain to climb herself now. Please keep her in your thoughts the next few weeks…”
Governor Mike Parson appointed Casey Osterkamp as Director of the Division of Personnel for the Office of Administration.
Minority Leader Crystal Quade removed Rep. Brandon Ellington from Ways and Means and added Reps. Alan Gray and LaKeySha Bosley; and removed Rep. Peter Merideth from Rules-Legislative Oversight and added Rep. Barbara Washington.
Stephan Gordon formed a candidate committee (Stephan Gordon For City Council) to run for Kansas City Council Person.
Richard Brownlee added Rainbow Trout and Game Ranch Inc.
Zach Brunnert and Richard McIntosh added WellSky Corporation.
Heather Elizabeth Coil added Associated Builders and Contractors.
Christopher Crancer added Center for Diagnostic Imaging.
Ron Barnes added Google LLC and its affiliates.
Thomas Robbins added Rivian.
Friends of Jamilah Nasheed - $10,000 from Safer Families for Missouri.
Happy birthday to Jeff Altmann, Michael Moorefield, and Katie Jamboretz.