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Feb 23, 2009

  1. 1. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 1 of 55 Health care group plans public meeting Thursday SPRINGFIELD NEWS-LEADER Missourians for Choice in Healthcare, or MUCH, will sponsor an informational public town hall meeting for health care choice at 6 p.m.Thursday with the intention of gathering “testimonial” support for House Bill 303 in the Missouri General Assembly. Public participation from patients and health care providers is invited. The gathering will be in the lobby of Orthopaedic Specialists of Springfield at 3045 S. National Ave. Missourians United for Choice in Health Care is a coalition of consumers and medical providers working together to secure the rights of patients to choose their health care professionals; to assure network access for qualified independent medical professionals; and to ensure the best and most affordable health care in Missouri. Its web site is www.mohealthcarechoice.com. HB 303 has at least 80 bipartisan cosponsors in the Missouri House. Principal bipartisan cosponsors are Rep. Rob Schaaf, a physician; and Rep. Ed Wildberger, both of St. Joseph. Area sponsors include State Reps. Shane Schoeller, R-Willard; Dr. Ray Weter, R-Nixa; and Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, according to a MUCH news release. Last year a similar bill, HB 1857, passed the Missouri House by a 118-25 vote in the final hours of the legislative session, too late for consideration by the Senate. “HB 303 is so simple that it should be passed quickly and unanimously in both the Missouri House and Senate without the opposition it has received from huge insurance companies and health care systems,” Holly Cuoco, president of MUCH, said in the news release. Cuoco survived Stage Four cancer, but chose to go out of network for treatment options not available in network. “Testimonials like mine are the reason for this town hall meeting, so that everyday people can tell their stories. This really is a kind of Declaration of Choice for all of us. We want to hear from those in similar situations who feel they have been penalized as patients or medical practitioners.” Among other things, the bill proposes that no health carrier such as an insurance company, an of its networks, contractors or subcontractors, shall discriminate any Missouri health care provider who works in the coverage area of a health benefit plan and agrees to meet the terms and conditions required to participate in the health benefit plan, including Mo HealthNet and Medicare programs. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  2. 2. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 2 of 55 MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2009 Tracking the recession: Lowering expectations By Stephen C. Fehr, Stateline.org Staff Writer One of a leader’s jobs is to manage expectations. President Obama has been careful to say that the mammoth economic stimulus package is only a step towards addressing the overall financial crisis. “The road to recovery will not be straight,” he has warned. But now that a big chunk of the $787 billion is flowing to states, it’s up to governors, state legislators and other officials to prepare their constituents for what the federal legislation can — and cannot — do for states. When the money runs out in two years, many states still could be spending more money than they are taking in. Governors, many of whom are attending the annual winter meeting Feb. 21-23 of the National Governor’s Association in Washington, D.C., already are knocking down expectations that the federal money their states are getting will dig them out of their budget holes. They are planning to meet with Obama today (Feb. 23) at the White House. “There’s not a state in this union that will be able to use this stimulus money and wipe away all their problems and all the challenges we face,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), chairman of the governor’s group, noting he recently cut $1 billion in spending from his state budget and raised some taxes $218 million. “States are not off the hook.” Rendell and Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R) were particularly miffed that some critics have characterized the stimulus package as a bailout for states. “We’re not just getting a handout here. We’re doing the heavy lifting” by making cuts, Douglas said. Before the governor’s meeting in Washington, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) had said “the stimulus package will not be a panacea” for the state’s deeper budget troubles. Iowa Gov. Chet Culver (D) said the federal money “will not be an excuse to ignore the need to reduce state spending.” First year North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) said despite the stimulus money, more spending cuts will be needed to cover a $2 billion budget gap. “I’m going to have to dig deeper,” she said. Governors in the states battered the hardest by the recession are even more pointed because they have a greater need to dampen assumptions. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), whose states faces long- term budget problems despite closing a $42 billion gap Feb. 18, said residents “have to be very careful not to look at (the federal government) as the savior.” New York Gov. David Paterson (D) said the $25 billion the state is getting “does not absolve us of our responsibility at the state level to bring spending in line with what our government can afford over the long term.” State lawmakers are equally cautious. Rep. William Lippert, a Democrat from Vermont, and Sen. Dean Cameron, a Republican from Idaho, worry that the size of the federal package may raise expectations that cannot be met. “There is a perception that this is going to balance our budget. It’s not,” Cameron said, according to the Idaho Statesman. The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York warned in a report issued Feb. 19 that although the federal aid is massive, it is temporary. “When citizens look at the massive size of the stimulus package, they may think that states have dodged a bullet. But they haven't dodged it — they've just gotten a little farther ahead of it,” Donald Boyd, a senior fellow at the institute, said in an interview. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  3. 3. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 3 of 55 The report said the hope is that state tax revenue will rise as the recovery takes hold but even under optimistic assumptions, the additional revenue will not come soon enough to avoid the need for significant budget cuts or tax increases. In two years, the report said, states still could collectively face a budget gap of about $70 billion. Boyd said after the stimulus money is spent, “The budget gaps will… be smaller than before, and further delayed, but they're still there and will grow. States have breathing room and an opportunity to plan for the loss of stimulus aid — governors certainly know this. But if they don't manage expectations — if they don't make sure that voters understand that reckoning has been softened and postponed, not averted — they may find it hard to get the political support they need to phase in spending cuts and/or tax increases that can ensure balance over the longer term.” The challenge for many governors is managing those expectations at the same time their own political futures are at stake. This year and next, 38 governor’s seats are up. Many of those contested races will amount to referenda on how the chief executive has steered the state through one of the worst recessions in U.S. history. Many governors and state lawmakers say the worst thing they can do is build the temporary stimulus money into their budgets. When the one-time money runs out, they say, the state could have to cut spending or raise taxes to make up the difference. “This is one-time money,” Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) recently told reporters. “It’s a heck of a lot of it, but it is one-time money.” But governors, such as first-year Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D), say the federal money will help stabilize state budgets until tax revenues increase as the economy recovers. The federal legislation even calls some of the money “fiscal stabilization funds.” Nixon has ignited a partisan debate in Missouri by recommending the state use more than $800 million of its federal stimulus money to balance the budget for the coming fiscal year. Republicans say the plan is irresponsible because it could escalate the state’s fiscal crisis in two years if there isn’t enough state revenue to replace the federal funds. Nixon counters that the GOP-controlled Legislature wouldn’t want to slash $800 million from such programs as education and health care. The immediate priority, he said, is creating jobs — and revenue. “When this thing (the stimulus) is over and we’re in the same place we were before, we’ve missed a great opportunity,” Nixon said in an interview. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  4. 4. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 4 of 55 Balancing Act Gary Forsee steers the UM System through troubled financial waters. By Terry Ganey COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE Sunday, February 22, 2009 When Gary Forsee became president of the University of Missouri System, there were some misgivings among faculty on the Columbia campus about a non-academic being in charge. But that was one of the reasons why the Board of Curators had recruited Forsee, who spent 36 years as an executive in the communications business before he was fired from Sprint. The curators believed Forsee was just the man for the job, dealing with tight economic times and a state government that seemed reluctant to adequately fund higher education. Now, the times have gotten tighter, precariously so, and Forsee finds himself traveling the state visiting the four UM campuses, explaining the university system’s budget challenges to a skeptical and worried faculty and staff. At the same time, Forsee is on the road to the state capital, where he is trying to convince lawmakers about the need and value of higher education to the state’s long-term economy. Although the academic world differs from the corporate sector, Forsee sees some parallels. Dealing with lawmakers, curators, faculty, staff and students and their parents is akin to engaging with customers, employees, boards of directors and shareholders. It’s a balancing act between the expectations of students, parents, faculty and staff with the resources at hand. It’s also a balancing act between the current economic problems and the notion of looking down the road at a long-term vision for higher education. One faculty member said Forsee’s recent move to control costs by freezing salaries and requiring employees to contribute to their own pension plans might reinforce a stereotype that some academics have about a “classic cost-cutting CEO type.” On the other hand, for people looking at the UM System from the outside, he might be just what was needed at this time. “I rely on people to do their jobs,” Forsee said when asked about his management style. “I force people to be accountable.” Forsee has no advanced degree beyond the bachelor’s in engineering that he received at Missouri University of Science and Technology, formerly UM-Rolla. For some in arts and sciences, that’s a problem, and Forsee is trying to deal with it. “I came in Day One respecting what the faculty does because that’s what they’ve done for their career versus what I’ve done in my career,” Forsee said. “I’ve tried to spend as much time as I could in the past year learning what they do so that they can have confidence in me to be their representative and their chief advocate.” HIGH EXPECTATIONS Forsee is getting good reviews in Jefferson City, where some of the key decisions are made regarding UM financing and governance. Forsee recently sat beside Missouri State University President Mike Nietzel for a joint presentation before a Senate committee showing that Missouri was falling behind other states on a number of higher education measurements, including the number of people getting college degrees. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  5. 5. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 5 of 55 State Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Forsee was “off to a good start.” “I’ve always been impressed with his ability and intellect,” Nodler said. Of course, Nodler added that he was biased because both he and Forsee attended First Methodist Church in Joplin when Forsee lived there. Through most of his business life, Forsee has lived all over Missouri and still benefits from the connections he made. His parents were from the Fulton-Millersburg area, and Forsee lived at one time or another in Hannibal, St. Louis, Kansas City, St. Joseph, Springfield, Cape Girardeau and Joplin. “I can relate to people,” Forsee said. Gov. Jay Nixon said he has been impressed with Forsee’s vision for how higher education fits into economic development in Missouri. “Gary’s leadership was key to the agreement my administration reached with every public college in Missouri not to raise tuition next year,” Nixon said. “He has proven to Missourians that he puts the interests of students first.” The curators recently evaluated Forsee’s first-year performance, giving him an exceptional rating. “A year ago, when he came in, we had high expectations for Gary Forsee, and I believe and all the curators believe that he has exceeded those high expectations,” said Bo Fraser, board chairman. “Our feeling is very, very positive.” Forsee’s performance earned him a pay raise, which he declined. He is paid a salary of $400,000 and could have received a $100,000 incentive bonus based on his evaluation. Forsee turned down the performance bonus as well as any increase in his base salary for 2009. “Given the current fiscal challenges faced by the university, he will also forgo any performance award opportunity for 2009,” said David Russell, chief of staff. Gary Forsee and his wife, Sherry, recently donated $1 million to finance a videoconferencing system on the four campuses. At a “town hall” meeting Friday on the MU campus with faculty and staff, one of those offering comments and questions thanked the Forsees for their generosity. Other than university compensation, the Forsees have other income. According to Forbes magazine, when Forsee was fired “without cause,” Sprint gave him $40 million, including a $1.5 million salary through 2009, $5 million in bonuses, stock options and restricted shares worth $23 million and an $84,000-a-month pension for life. “You need look no further than Gary Forsee to see why the absurdities of executive compensation rankle shareholders so much,” Forbes reported. THOUGHT INSTIGATOR Executive compensation was on the minds of some who questioned Forsee on Friday about hiring freezes, potential furloughs and a new requirement that employees contribute to their own pension fund. Although many who attended complimented Fosee on holding the open forum, others wondered how much input the rank and file had to the decision requiring workers to contribute 1 or 2 percent of their salaries to their pension fund. “There is an incredible appetite that people want to have information sooner or felt like they could have been consulted,” Forsee said. He said there were complicated communications challenges in getting the word out to everyone and that the administration had done the best it could. Forsee said his management style is to send out ideas, not like he’s endorsing them, but just encouraging people to think about them. He sent out an article recently about a speech given by the president of another university. When some faculty members read it, they wondered whether Forsee was endorsing the speech or suggesting that changes be made to carry out ideas included in it. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  6. 6. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 6 of 55 “I’m kind of a chief instigator of thinking about things,” Forsee said. “I do have to be careful. Things can be misinterpreted.” It’s clear that Forsee would prefer to get the economic troubles behind him and get on with implementing a long- term vision for higher education in general and the university in particular. One of the most troubling statistics he sees is that between 2001 and 2007, Missouri experienced a 7 percent increase in the number of students going to college while the national average was twice that amount. And Forsee said one of the most shocking things he had learned in the year since coming on the job was “how little people outside the university knew about the great things going on at the university.” For now, Forsee is trying to build trust among all stakeholders that he has their best interests in mind. “I came to the job wanting an opportunity to serve the state and the university and to grapple with these education issues,” Forsee said. “And I’m getting to do that. That’s a good opportunity at this point in my career. The economy is an obstacle, without question.” On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  7. 7. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 7 of 55 Nixon: Missourians are entitled to stimulus money Nixon was previously against printing more money to balance budgets By Chad Livengood SPRINGFIELD NEWS-LEADER Inside Missouri Politics blog Gov. Jay Nixon said Sunday that Missourians have paid their federal taxes and are entitled to the more than $4 billion in federal aid set aside for the Show-Me State in President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill. "Missourian's paid their taxes, and if there's debt, Missouri kids and grandkids will pay that debt off," Nixon said Sunday morning on C-SPAN's Washington Journal. Some Missouri Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Ron Richard, have suggested rejecting at least some of the stimulus money because of the federal strings that may be attached. GOP lawmakers, who control Missouri's legislature, are concerned if they accept the money to start new programs in health care and education, that they'll be stuck with the bill in future years when Obama's windfall stimulus money runs out. Nixon is in Washington, D.C. this weekend for the annual National Governors Association meeting. Tonight, Nixon will dine at the White House with other governors for the first time as Missouri's chief executive officer. The Democratic governor spent a half-hour on C-SPAN, answering questions from callers and touting his Transform Missouri Initiative, which seeks to maximize the impact of stimulus money on Missouri's economy (For more details about how the stimulus money will impact Missouri, see the attached document from the Nixon administration). Nixon was addressing concerns raised by Republicans that the $787 billion stimulus legislation will just pass along the debt to future generations. The governor very cavalierly dismissed this fiscal responsibility argument as a non-issue. “My golly, this is chance to transform our economy, this is a chance to balance our budget, this is a chance to move forward,” Nixon said. Nixon later repeated his earlier argument that "the debt" the country "may have" as a result of the bill will get paid off by people's "kids and grandkids." The governor's proposed 2010 budget relies on at least $809 million in federal stimulus dollars to expand health care and education programs and fill a half-billion dollar hole in the budget. Republicans have been resistant to Nixon's proposal, mostly because it expands eligibility for the Medicaid health care program. But the GOP-controlled Senate and House have yet to offer a single budget cut to fill the half-billion dollar deficit. Nixon said "I just don’t understand" the argument against using every last federal dollar available. Nixon admitted the stimulus bill is a "complicated piece of legislation," but he's using the weekend in the nation's Capitol to get educated on how to bring as much money back to Missouri through competitve grants for rural broadband Internet access and other infrastructure projects. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  8. 8. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 8 of 55 "Whether we like each paragraph of the bill is irrelevant,” Nixon said. “I really can’t see any reason not to try to get these dollars and jump start the economy." Web link: Video of Gov. Jay Nixon on C-SPAN: http://www.c-span.org/Watch/watch.aspx?MediaId=HP-A-15715 Flashback: Nixon was against printing more money before he was for it During his campaign for governor, then-Attorney General Jay Nixon lambasted his Republican opponent, former U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, for being part of a GOP-controlled Congress that doubled the size of the national debt by printing more money and leaving future generations with the bill. Portraying himself as the fiscal conservative in the race, Nixon told Hulshof repeatedly during a TV debate in Springfield: “Here is Missouri, we don’t print money.” Asked Wednesday during a press conference in his Capitol office about how he reconciles his previous opinion with his current proposals to spend billions of dollars of freshly printed, borrowed money, Nixon deferred responsibility to President Obama and Congress: “They did it, not us.” Nixon stopped for a moment, gathered his thoughts and then said he had a “responsibility” as chief executive of the state to take advantage of the every federal dollar available. “I think that the fact they’ve given us this opportunity gives me a responsibility to lead here … and most specifically, though, to collaborate on behalf of the 219,000 Missourians who got up this morning, looked and the mirror and didn’t see somebody that was going to work,” Nixon said. “And we’ve got to get people back to work.” On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  9. 9. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 9 of 55 Lincoln Days: Senate races and stimulus THE MANEATER Posted to Politics Watch by Andrew Denney at 12:10 p.m., Feb. 21, 2009 In what could be considered the main event of the morning at Lincoln Days, Republican Missouri legislators — both state and national — held a town hall meeting in which they spoke and took questions from the audience. Check back here later for video of the some of the legislators answering questions from the audience. Other than U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, who spoke first, no one spent too much time discussing the looming race to fill Bond's seat, which he announced earlier this month he would vacate. U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, who officially threw his hat in the race on Thursday, is not present at the event today, but judging by the number of "Roy Blunt, U.S. Senate" posters hung on the walls and stickers of the same design on peoples' chests, it could be argued that he is here in spirit. Blunt was in St. Joseph today to make an appearance, but Sarah Steelman, the former state treasurer, is here in Kansas City at the event. Steelman said all the stickers and posters don't bother her, and said she is still considering a run for the seat. In an interview, Steelman said the Republican Party needs to get back to "basic conservative principles" that former President Ronald Reagan once stood for. "I think we have moved away from those principles," Steelman said. Speakers at the town hall did discuss certain election strategies, however. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said that Republicans could reach students through increased use of social networking technologies such as Facebook and Twitter. He also said that Republicans could chip into the heavily Democratic black vote by focusing on social issues such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage. The town hall centered very heavily on the federal stimulus package, which was signed by President Barack Obama this week, and which almost no Republicans supported. The speakers even had a wide array of different pet names for the measure — U.S. Rep. Todd Akin called it the "porkulus bill." U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer called the measure "abominable." "The public that elected the people that created this mess are now the ones that have to pull them out of it," Luetkemeyer said. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  10. 10. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 10 of 55 Lincoln Days wrap-up: Term limits and Democratic “overreaching” By Tony Messenger St. Louis Post-Dispatch KANSAS CITY — One of the more interesting aspects of the weekend Republican Lincoln Days celebration came during the morning town hall when Sen. Kit Bond was taking questions. Most of the questions were typical of such partisan events, when a member of the crowd will set a softball on the tee and a politician will hit it out of the park. Such it was with Bond’s first few questions on immigration policy, the stimulus, the war in Iraq, etc. Then came Charles Ditmer’s question on term limits. He’s a fan. Bond, it turns out, is not. In one of his more animated answers — and it continued with reporters in the hallway — Bond made it clear that he believes Missouri’s experiment with term limits in the General Assembly is a failure. Bond repeated the themes of many term limit critics, that the forced limitations have put too much power in the hands of lobbyists. (Stay tuned, I’ll explore this with a complete story on www.stltoday.com later this week.) The evening banquet on day two was a low key, pro-Roy Blunt affair, with his hand-picked speaker, Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole. Cole was funny and full of history, quoting Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill in a speech in which he told Republicans to be “optimistic.” He said the party is not dead, but will revive itself after a couple of tough electoral cycles in part because Democrats will make their job easier by “overreaching.” Then Cole continued the key theme of the weekend, blasting the stimulus as a wasteful spending package. It’s worth noting that both Cole and Blunt voted for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout while George Bush was president, but voted against the stimulus package under President Barack Obama. It’s a point also mentioned by possible Senate candidate Sarah Steelman, who was stalking the event without ever really participating in it. Steelman continued to act and talk as if she’s likely going to face Blunt in a primary, but she never announced one way or another. Whether she runs or not, Blunt was taking dead aim at Democrat Robin Carnahan, who is running for Senate, on Day Two of Lincoln Days. In his speech while introducing Cole, Blunt challenged Carnahan to three forums this year in which the two of them outline their positions on issues. And he said that if Carnahan wants to make issue of his Washington experience, he welcomes that discussion. “My record is the most transparent in Congress,” Blunt said, pointing out that since his first year as a representative he’s published every one of his votes online. “It’s not perfect, but I’m going to stand behind it. Let’s see what her record is.” Then Blunt took the experience issue head on, pointing out that Carnahan’s experience in public service doesn’t quite stack up to his. “I have more experience as a school teacher than Robin Carnahan does,” Blunt said. “I have more experience as a university president than Robin Carnahan does. I have more experience as a county official than Robin Carnahan does. And I even have more experience as secretary of state than Robin Carnahan does.” Blunt said he plans to call Carnahan on Monday to make his challenge. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  11. 11. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 11 of 55 Missouri's Quality Jobs program has created barely a tenth of the jobs claimed By Virginia Young ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 02/22/2009 JEFFERSON CITY — The state likes to brag about its Quality Jobs program. Both Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, and former Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, have praised the program's oft-stated record of generating more than 22,000 good-paying jobs with health insurance. But try to find the jobs and you get a starkly different picture. State records show that since 2005, the incentives have produced only 2,373 new jobs — about 11 percent of the 22,000 claimed by the program itself and politicians in both parties. Why such a Officials counted all jobs that companies initially promised in their applications, while the actual number of jobs generated so far is much lower. A Post-Dispatch review shows that many of those projects fizzled or were put on hold when the economy nose-dived. The program's track record is particularly relevant now that Nixon is proposing to commit more funding to Quality Jobs. That expansion is at the heart of the governor's emergency Show- Me Jobs plan to jump-start the state's economy. Nixon favors eliminating the $60 million annual ceiling on tax credits the program can give out. The Missouri House has already voted for such a proposal. Given the state's 25-year-high unemployment rate, Nixon said, the Senate should move quickly to pass it. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  12. 12. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 12 of 55 "I really think it will help us, if they get this bill on my desk, show America that this is a place where people work together, we're open for business," the governor told the Missouri Press Association. But there's little hard evidence to support the glowing statements. Only 33 companies have added enough jobs to receive the state tax breaks over the past four years. That leaves more than 160 projects touted as job-generating participants that haven't yet tapped the program — including some whose tax credit authority has expired because the two-year deadline has passed. For example, one of the first companies approved for Quality Jobs tax breaks in 2005 was Westar, a defense contractor in St. Charles County. The firm planned to add 188 jobs, but they never materialized, according to state records. "We didn't grow in St. Louis as much as we anticipated," said Mike Ruggeri, Westar's vice president of communications. "We also spun off a business here." Ruggeri said the company earned a Quality Jobs tax credit for one year; state records don't show even that. Expectations were even further from reality for a fledgling technology firm called Onshore Technology Services Inc., which aims to keep computer jobs from being shipped to India. In 2007, the company told the state that it intended to add 453 jobs in Macon. A year later the firm filed plans to hire 116 employees in Lebanon and an equal number in Joplin. State records show the business actually added 12 jobs. Company founder Shane Mayes said the firm was still growing, just "not at the rate that I had originally planned." NO JOBS, NO TAX BREAK From a taxpayer standpoint, the good news is that the state doesn't give out the money if the jobs don't materialize. Firms must show that their payrolls increased before they get tax credits and other benefits. Even so, critics say that if the program isn't producing the promised jobs, touting its expansion won't help. Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, said using the inflated jobs figure was a "misleading" way to shape the policy debate. The idea that Quality Jobs has generated 22,000 jobs has been repeated like a mantra, by Republicans and Democrats alike. Blunt used the figure as far back as 2007 in the program's annual report. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry cited the figure last December. Nixon's administration used it when asked this month to quantify the program's success. "The Quality Jobs Act has worked," Nixon declared in his State of the State speech in January. Blunt is the father of the program, which he signed in 2005. Greg Steinhoff ran it as Blunt's economic development director. Steinhoff said last week that Missouri needed a way to compete with states that can hand out cash grants to lure companies. Missouri's constitution prohibits that. "Before Quality Jobs, a lot of these companies would've said, 'We're doing this somewhere else.' We just didn't have anything to put on the table," Steinhoff said. Under the program, companies file a notice of intent detailing how many jobs they plan to add. The jobs must pay at least the county's average wage; for example, $37,237 a year in St. Charles County. For counties where the average salary exceeds the statewide average of $38,885, the state figure is substituted as the floor. That's the case in St. Louis and St. Louis County. Employers also must provide health insurance and pay at least half the premium. In general, businesses get to keep the withholding taxes of the new employees. In some cases, a formula gives them more, so they get a "refundable" tax credit. That's a fancy way of saying the state writes the company a check. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  13. 13. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 13 of 55 The Department of Economic Development runs the program. Nine regional managers help businesses apply. After a finance team approves the paperwork, a manager and three specialists administer the benefit. The department's new director, Linda Martinez, said it was fair to count the jobs when they are pledged because they were in the pipeline. "It's a process," she said. Smaller companies have two years to begin adding the jobs, while larger firms can take up to three years. "In terms of what it's done, I think it did help companies make a decision that they were going to expand," she said. "I think that's a wonderful thing. The economy has affected whether they can follow through." SUCCESS STORIES Although some of the deals fell through, Steinhoff said there had been success stories. He points to ABC Labs, which has received $219,154 for adding 96 jobs in Steinhoff's hometown of Columbia, Mo. Its total tax break over five years is estimated at $1.2 million. "ABC Labs would've been in San Diego" without the program, he said. The biggest breaks so far have gone to Express Scripts Inc., which received tax credits worth $1.6 million so far for adding 406 jobs at its headquarters in St. Louis County. Most of the firms that have tapped the program are small technology companies. Global Velocity, an Internet security firm based in Clayton, has received $7,510. "We're tiny. We're 20 people. Seven thousand is a lot of money to us," said Ed Morrissey, vice president of marketing. Others may not hit their hiring goals. Exegy, a St. Louis technology company, was approved in 2007 to add 40 jobs. The firm provides computer appliances and services to speed up electronic trading of stocks, futures and options on Wall Street. J.J. Stupp, chief financial officer, said the company was "still plugging along at this point. I don't know that we're going to make the deadline" to tap the benefits. KV Pharmaceutical Co., based in Brentwood, intended to add 440 jobs. It announced this month that it was eliminating 700 jobs as it tries to survive mounting costs of drug recalls and a federal investigation. The progress of some projects is harder to trace. Smurfit-Stone Container Enterprises Inc. said it filed for benefits last fall for moving 273 employees from Illinois to Creve Coeur. State officials said part of the paperwork just arrived Friday, so the request is being processed. However, companies that are in bankruptcy, as Smurfit-Stone is, are ineligible. Meanwhile, Barat Academy in St. Charles County was approved to draw subsidies for generating 60 jobs, even though private schools are ineligible under the law. The school hasn't received any money yet. Officials said they were reviewing the application. JOBS BILL STALLED Nixon's jobs bill passed the House easily, 141-19. Among its champions was House Speaker Ron Richard, R- Joplin, the original Quality Jobs bill's sponsor. But the $90 million package slowed down in the Senate. Last week, a group of seven Republican senators called for more controls on tax credits. Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield, questioned why the $60 million cap on Quality Jobs credits should be raised. The most the state has ever authorized for the program was $23 million, in fiscal 2008; the amount redeemed that year was only $2.8 million. "When you're not even halfway to the cap, I don't know how you're creating jobs" by increasing it, Purgason said. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  14. 14. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 14 of 55 Steinhoff, the former economic development director, said raising the cap gave the state more flexibility to recruit businesses because once the state makes an offer of tax credits, that amount must be counted in the cap, even if it is never used. Steinhoff, now in banking, sees the credit crunch firsthand. He acknowledged that "in this economy, nobody's going to expand. But that doesn't mean companies aren't making plans to expand." The bill's sponsor, Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, said that the program had already generated 22,000 jobs so doubling the cap would produce an additional 22,000 jobs. Told later that there was proof of only several thousand jobs, Pearce was surprised. "That's news to me," he said. The jobs bills are HB191 and SB45. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  15. 15. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 15 of 55 Several express interest in Shields' Senate seat ST. JOSEPH NEWS-PRESS by Alyson E. Raletz Sunday, February 22, 2009 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The 2010 race for an area state Senate seat already is shaping up as a showdown between possibly five state lawmakers and is triggering a domino effect in Buchanan County politics. On deck to run for the 34th Senatorial District, which Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, must vacate at the end of next year because of term limits, is Rep. Dr. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph — the only one in the lineup to confirm his intentions to run. The race also is prompting a toss-up between St. Joseph Reps. Martin Rucker and Ed Wildberger to run on the Democratic side. That choice could become null and void, though, as Mr. Wildberger said he might be considered to serve as the next Missouri state fire marshal. As far as the district’s other half — Platte County — Rep. Jason Brown, R-Platte City, and Rep. Jason Grill, D- Parkville, also are mulling over bids. And political circles in both counties are scouting out candidates to vie for the House seats that would be left vacant, either as a result of the above scenarios or because of term limits. “There’s a lot of recruiting going on right now,” said longtime Northwest Missouri Republican Ken Beck. Dr. Schaaf long has eyed the Senate seat. He established a campaign committee for it a year ago, and kept it active during his re-election campaign in 2008. Missouri Ethics Commission reports show he’s raised $11,350. He told the News-Press he’s not campaigning, but is doing “preparatory work” for the race. That includes frequent visits to Platte County Republican events, such as club meetings, and he most recently made an address at a Feb. 12 celebration of President Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, along with Mr. Shields. “I’m well aware that Rep. Schaaf is already politicking,” Mr. Brown said. “Everybody’s having conversations. I think Rep. Schaaf is far more worried and concerned about it than anyone else. That’s his prerogative.” Mr. Brown said he believed the second month of the legislative session was premature to make a decision on the race, saying that he’d prefer to focus on his work at the Capitol. Jim Morris, chairman of the 34th Senatorial District Committee and chairman of the Platte County Central Republican committee, said the area GOP expects Mr. Brown to run for the Senate, but believes he could opt for a position closer to home, such as Platte County auditor. If Dr. Schaaf and Mr. Brown do run against each other in a primary, Mr. Morris said, “It’ll probably be a closer race than people may think.” Mr. Beck agreed. Despite Mr. Brown’s popularity as an active legislator and leadership in John McCain’s presidential campaign, plus the name recognition he received when he was wounded in Iraq in 2006, Mr. Beck said not to discount Dr. Schaaf. Dr. Schaaf is largely active in state health care issues, becoming notable most recently for his involvement in crafting a new state Medicaid system, called MO Health Net, and for stopping Gov. Matt Blunt’s controversial plan to offer health insurance to more Missourians in 2008. “One thing we found out in the last election was Rob came through and showed his popularity,” Mr. Beck said. Dr. Schaaf’s 28th House District seat will be available in 2010, as he has reached his term limits, as well. Northwest Missouri Republican Club President Mik Chester is running for the office. He’s established a committee and has begun early fundraising activities. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  16. 16. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 16 of 55 No Democrats have declared their intentions, but Mark Sheehan, who attempted to unseat Dr. Schaaf in November, could return for a wide-open race in 2010. “I certainly wouldn’t close the door,” said Mr. Sheehan, the News-Press’ former Opinion page editor. A term-limited Mr. Wildberger also is eyeing the Senate seat, but so is his friend, Mr. Rucker, who can run for only one more two-year term in the House. If Mr. Rucker wants the Senate seat, he’ll have to pursue it in 2010 or wait two to six years before the chance could come up again. The two have mutually agreed they wouldn’t run against each other in a Senate primary, so the pair will decide among themselves in coming weeks who will officially go on the Democratic ticket. “We don’t want to put our supporters in a precarious position and have to make a decision between the two of us,” Mr. Rucker said. “We actually share a lot of the same friends. We hope to have that worked out.” Buchanan County Democrat Club President Pat Squires said the two both have strengths, pointing to Mr. Wildberger’s background in public safety and reputation as a strong Democratic voice, while Mr. Rucker, a St. Joseph School District board member, has gained popularity among the sports and education communities. “Both of them in our mind are good representatives of the Democratic party, and we don’t want a bloody primary, to put it bluntly,” Mr. Squires said. The decision could largely depend on what Mr. Wildberger, a former St. Joseph firefighter, hears about the state fire marshal post. He said he didn’t apply for the position to replace Randy Cole, the marshal who still remains under Gov. Matt Blunt’s prior administration. Mr. Cole earns $79,119 a year. “I’ve been contacted by the governor’s office,” Mr. Wildberger said, but he hasn’t been approached with the appointment. If he decides to run for Senate, he likely would reject any fire marshal offer that would follow, he added. No Republicans have come forward as possible candidates for Mr. Wildberger’s 27th House District seat, which opens up in 2010 regardless of his decision. But Democrats are considering the idea. Mr. Squires may try his hand at politics. City Councilman Roger Baker said he is thinking about a statehouse run, and Buchanan County Clerk Pat Conway also said he is looking into the House seat. If Mr. Conway won the House race, his county clerk office would be wide open for the first time since 1983. Mr. Squires said area Democrats are preparing for the possibility that Mr. Rucker may seek the Senate post and are recruiting possible names to fill his 29th House District seat, as well. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  17. 17. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 17 of 55 Tax credits fill need for state ST. JOSEPH NEWS-PRESS Sunday, February 22, 2009 The push for government to fix every problem in our economy gives Sen. Brad Lager a chance to make his points about the downside of tax credits. Although major changes are unlikely in this legislative session, the Savannah Republican is right to start this discussion. Now is not the time to pull back on state tax credit programs designed to spur job growth — whether the focus is on across-the-board growth, growth in individual sectors of the economy, or growth in specific locales that have a targeted employer in mind, such as our region’s courtship of Bombardier Aerospace last spring. However, we do see the need to remind the General Assembly about the virtues of keeping taxes low and allowing the free market system to work. Among the numbers that concern critics: more than $500 million in tax credits redeemed by the state in the last budget cycle, and a likely increase to more than $600 million in the current year. Sen. Lager and other legislators warn that rate of growth could severely burden future state budgets, and they question what the state gets in return. They propose several changes: n Move authority for disbursing tax credits from the Department of Economic Development, making them subject to oversight by legislative leaders during the budget process. n Add restrictions to the Missouri Development Finance Board, which acted in December while the legislators were out of town to approve $25 million in tax credits for the Kansas City Chiefs as part of their plan to place the summer training camp in St. Joseph. n Place a cap on all existing tax credits. This won’t all happen in the current climate. For starters, the House already has given resounding support to Gov. Jay Nixon’s call to expand the Missouri Quality Jobs program, which offers tax credits to companies who pay above the county average wage and offer health benefits. The legislation sent to the Senate would eliminate the $60 million annual cap on credits and create a new research tax credit that could benefit local companies engaged in the animal-health research. Senate President Pro-Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, says he believes changes can be made, including placing legislators on the board that awards the credits. But he supports raising the cap on the Quality Jobs credits in this troubled economy, and so do we. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  18. 18. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 18 of 55 Nixon outlines broad plan for federal money By Bob Watson News Tribune Missouri will access billions of dollars from the federal stimulus package to help climb out of the current recession, Gov. Jay Nixon promised Wednesday. “The time to debate whether to have a national recovery plan is over - it ended (Tuesday) afternoon in Denver” when President Barack Obama signed the nearly 1,000-page stimulus bill into law, Nixon said. “We are now left only to decide how we will meet our responsibility to use this once-in-a-generation opportunity. ... “We must pull together and seize this chance to transform our economy and create a future that brings prosperity to Missouri.” Although the spending details still must be worked out, Nixon announced the start of a “Transform Missouri Initiative” to invest the state's share of the federal stimulus money in Missouri programs. He expects to work closely with lawmakers in using Missouri's estimated $4.3 billion in federal stimulus money. A hundred years ago, the governor noted, “Agriculture and heavy manufacturing were enough to sustain Missouri's economy. That isn't so today.” His plan seeks to “embrace science and technology to create the jobs of tomorrow,” by retooling the economy “to compete in an ever-changing world.” On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  19. 19. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 19 of 55 Missouri Senate OKs prepaid funerals bill By Roseann Moring ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 02/21/2009 JEFFERSON CITY — A Clayton company that swindled thousands of Missourians out of prepaid funerals could legally re-form at any time in the state. Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, wants to change that. Texas courts liquidated prepaid funeral seller National Prearranged Services and two related insurance companies in September after NPS spent money in funds for funerals on the insurance companies. Missourians bought 56,261 contracts from NPS, totaling $198,447,434. Scott said the problem was partially the result of shortcomings in Missouri laws regulating prepaid funerals. "I have never seen a provision or law that has so many loopholes to protect the bad guys," he said. The contracts allow people to buy their funeral before death. Buyers can purchase specific services and items at today's price for a funeral that might be years down the road. The Missouri Senate on Thursday passed Scott's bill that would overhaul state regulation of prepaid funeral contracts. The bill would allow the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors to deny licenses to companies such as NPS and allow those companies to keep less of the amount paid. It also would give low-income people an alternative to buying a prepaid funeral: an untouchable trust that doesn't factor into Medicare. Some funeral home owners testified for the bill, including James Reinhard, chairman of the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. The current law "was bad in 1996. It's bad now," he said. Scott worked with an informal working group set up by the board to come up with the hefty bill, which focuses on regulation of the business and protections for buyers. It would create new licenses and give the board more power to deny those licenses to companies or people. Providers, meaning funeral homes that offer this service, would have to register with the state. Agents, individuals who sell contracts to consumers, would have to pass a test and register. Sellers, such as NPS, are those who execute the contract. The bill would impose stricter regulations on these companies and would require them to obtain a license. Companies like NPS couldn't get another license, Scott said. The bill also would allow the board to collect more fees and perform more oversight, including random inspections and jurisdiction over complaints. Also, the bill details what contracts must contain, including the type of funding and the terms of cancellation. Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, added a section to Scott's original bill that would allow consumers to put up to $10,000 into a trust rather than to a prepaid funeral seller. The trust wouldn't factor into Medicare eligibility, but the buyer would not be able to touch the money until after death. Goodman said the system is now set up in such a way that people on Medicare have few options other than to buy a prepaid funeral. "This is another option that doesn't force our low-income people into the preneed market," he said. The bill is SB1. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  20. 20. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 20 of 55 MSSU board voices funding frustrations JOPLIN GLOBE - By Melissa Dunson Pent-up frustration poured out of the Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors during a meeting Friday. The university’s tight finances, and delays or possible cuts to state funding triggered the discussion. The target of the frustration was what the board members termed the historical inequity of Missouri Southern’s funding compared with other higher-education institutions across the state and the nation. ‘Stepchild’ “We’ve been the proverbial stepchild of the state for many years, and I’m somewhat frustrated,” said board member David Ansley. Board member Richard Walter made a motion that the board meet with the university’s lobbyist in Jefferson City to discuss a specific legislative agenda in an effort to obtain additional funding for MSSU. The motion also established the practice of meeting with the lobbyist in advance of each year’s legislative session rather than just at the close of each session. The motion was approved unanimously and was prompted by MSSU President Bruce Speck’s report to the board on three state-level meetings he had with legislators and university presidents over the past week. Speck will be in Jefferson City again next week to testify before the Senate on what funding cuts of 15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent would do to the university. “It’s pretty easy to say what would happen,” Speck said. “Just take your household income and now cut it by 15 percent. Then do the same thing with 20 and 25 percent. Some people can’t make their house payments.” As part of its cost-cutting measures, Missouri Southern officials have talked about increasing teacher workloads and not doing promotions. Carla Huntington Walter, faculty representative to the Board of Governors, said faculty members are concerned about that, and that the faculty senate is putting together a formal position statement on those proposed changes. “Carla, I hear your concerns, but unless we’re an ostrich with its head in the sand, and none of us is, we have to acknowledge that we have serious economic problems,” Ansley said. Board member Rod Anderson said it may be time to be more forceful about getting state funding for Missouri Southern, and Ansley said the university needs to take advantage of the local legislators currently in positions of power like Speaker of the House Ron Richard, and Sen. Gary Nodler, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Flat-fee comparison Board member Charles McGinty also asked the administration to run financial simulations on what would happen if the university went from a per-credit-hour fee to a flat fee like Pittsburg (Kan.) State University uses. PSU just announced record spring enrollment Thursday and cited its flat-fee tuition as a possible reason. McGinty wants the administration to run the numbers and the board to make a decision before it votes on tuition rates for the fall. The board would normally discuss tuition during its February meeting, but the motion is on hold until the Legislature votes on Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposal to maintain current higher-education funding if the universities and colleges agree not to raise tuition. Construction project On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  21. 21. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 21 of 55 Missouri Southern is moving ahead with the construction of a storm shelter/athletic structure. Terri Agee, senior vice president of business affairs, said the university is seeking bids from architects. She said at least eight architects have already expressed interest in the project. The building will be made possible by a $2 million appropriation that Nodler obtained for the university during last year’s legislative session. It will be a weather shelter and indoor-practice building attached to the current athletic center. Agee said the $2 million pays to construct the building, but all other finishing of the building will be put on hold until funding can be found for it. Time and place The Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors will meet again at 1 p.m. Friday, March 13, in the university’s television studio in Room 157 of Webster Hall. The meeting is open to the public. Information: 625-9500. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  22. 22. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 22 of 55 Concerns over tax credits delay Nixon’s jobs bill By JASON NOBLE The Star’s Jefferson City correspondent JEFFERSON CITY | One of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s top legislative priorities may be slowed by a group of senators raising philosophical questions about the state’s use of tax credits. The legislation is aimed at creating jobs to counteract unemployment caused by the recession, and Nixon has said he wants it on his desk by the legislative spring break, which begins March 12. But the bill relies almost exclusively on tax incentives to achieve its goals, many of which are targeted to specific purposes and even — some senators suggest — specific companies. That rankles a band of senators, a few of whom refer to themselves as “recovering tax-credit addicts.” They contend the credits too often please narrow interests to the detriment of everyday Missourians. “It’s disingenuous to call this a jobs bill,” said Sen. Jason Crowell, a Cape Girardeau Republican. “This is a tax- credit bill.” Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said the governor’s office was not concerned with the slowdown suggested by Crowell and the other senators. “We recognize the Senate is a more deliberative body, so this is not totally surprising,” Holste said. “We certainly believe that in the scheme of things, this is still going to be a bill that will be passed quickly.” The state offers dozens of tax credits for purposes as diverse as business and economic development, low- income housing construction, livestock breeding and charcoal production. The programs reduce the state revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The bill under discussion would raise the limit on credits provided through the “Quality Jobs” program. It offers incentives to businesses adding new jobs with above-average wages and health care and extends credits to businesses that expand their headquarters or set up shop in Missouri’s abandoned mines, among other provisions. “We’ve lost our way. We’ve let the Gucci suits and the alligator shoes tell us what does and does not create jobs,” Crowell said, referring to the lobbyists who press for industry-specific tax incentives. A version of the bill has passed the House, but Crowell and the others said Tuesday it would go no further unless it is coupled with serious reform to the state’s tax-credit programs. Sen. Brad Lager, a Maryville Republican, said the crafting and debate of reform measures would be a “methodical process” that could take weeks — well beyond Nixon’s proposed deadline. While the senators’ opposition to the status quo is clear, their proposals for reform are not. Sen. David Pearce, the Warrensburg Republican who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, acknowledged their concerns but wondered why they were late in raising them. “My question is, where have they been?” Pearce said. “They’ve had at least a year to work on this, and I haven’t seen anything concrete (from them) except ” for just saying ‘No.’ No amendments were introduced on Tuesday, although lawmakers did mention a few possible reforms. Crowell called for an elimination of the Missouri Development Finance Board’s ability to approve tax credits. The board, which falls under the state Department of Economic Development and is led by the lieutenant governor, has wide authority to award tax credits without guidance from lawmakers. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  23. 23. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 23 of 55 Crowell also proposed that tax credits should be included in the legislature’s appropriations process. Currently, tax credits go into effect and begin siphoning tax revenues from the state budget with no oversight from lawmakers. Sen. Luann Ridgeway, a Smithville Republican, called for a different sort of reform: a full repeal of all tax credits and, in their place, a rollback of corporate taxes, which would spread the benefit to all taxpayers in the state. @ The House version of the bill is HB 191. The Senate version is SB 45. Both bills are being heard in the Senate. Go to KansasCity.com for links to the full texts of the bills. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  24. 24. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 24 of 55 Missouri and Illinois prepare for billions in school stimulus cash education money stimulus federal government funds economy schools By David Hunnand Valerie Schremp Hahn ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 02/23/2009 Schools in Missouri and Illinois are preparing for the single largest injection of federal dollars ever. The states will collectively get $4.4 billion for education from the federal stimulus package, or roughly $1,500 per student for the states' combined 3 million public school children. But, late last week, scores of school officials and even high-ranking state administrators were unsure when the money would arrive, how long it would last and exactly how it could be used. "It's something no one's experienced," said Roger Dorson, director of school finance for Missouri's Department of Education. "I certainly haven't in my career, which spans 35 plus years." Federal leaders have given some direction. Millions of dollars are locked in for specific programs, serving low- income students, special education and a bit for technology. But most of the money — $920 million in Missouri and $2 billion in Illinois — is the subject of intense speculation by state leaders and school officials eager to tap the funds. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  25. 25. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 25 of 55 These dollars are first meant to stop states from trimming education budgets, eliminating services and cutting teachers. But they will almost certainly trickle down to school districts. And perhaps in vast sums. Some school leaders already have plans for the cash — to put in new windows, replace hundreds of light bulbs and add wings to schools. Others are waiting. "We're planning as if we're not getting anything," said Mike Fulton, superintendent of Pattonville School District. "We're not counting on any of this for our budget next year." FEW DIRECTIONS The heart of the confusion, school leaders say, stems from rules that govern how the money can be spent. For instance, Missouri must spend $9.8 million of its $1.3 billion total on technology, $147.6 million on low- income students and $253.7 million on children or adults with disabilities. And sometimes those pots themselves are split up by even more specific earmarks: Of the $253.7 million for special education, some must be spent on blind adults, some on preschoolers and some on work programs. But the rules governing the largest single pot of money, the "state fiscal stabilization fund," may be the most discussed. States must first use the stabilization money to restore any cuts to normal day-to-day school district funding and, second, to stop cuts to college budgets. States can then send the leftovers to schools and colleges, which can use this extra money for many kinds of general spending, including keeping tuition low or updating, renovating or repairing academic buildings. But no one can yet calculate how much extra that will be. For example, Illinois has a bigger hole in its state budget. It will likely spend more of the stimulus dollars to fill that hole, and less to fund new school projects. Missouri, on the other hand, was expecting less of a shortfall and may have quite a bit left over. So the states' schools could get modest extra cash for projects. Or a bonanza worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The state legislatures will decide much of this, eventually. But, for now, school leaders are left wondering, and waiting. "The numbers and the information are changing by the hour," said Hazelwood School District Superintendent Chris Wright. "We're attending meetings and paying attention to our lobbyists. They've got people on the hill, feeding us information hourly. We're getting lots of information, trying to stay in tune with it." SHOVEL READY Still, many school leaders have already figured out what stimulus dollars could do in their districts. St. Louis Public Schools proposed replacing lead-painted windows in 27 elementary schools with energy- efficient models for $15.7 million, among other projects. Maplewood-Richmond Heights is ready to build a new high school parking lot and remodel its early childhood center's cafeteria and kitchen, for about $2.5 million. Stimulus money could save about 65 jobs at Special School District, help Parkway pay off a bond early and allow Ferguson-Florissant to replace lighting with high-efficiency bulbs. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  26. 26. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 26 of 55 The Mehlville School District has prepared a $42.2 million proposal to improve heating and air conditioning, increase parking and add playground equipment. Superintendent Terry Noble said the district could start the project in 90 days and finish in 18 months. But Noble, echoing school leaders across the region, also worried about the longevity of the funds. "If this is temporary funding that goes away in two years," he said, "we have to be very careful with how we allocate it." And that, said John Urkevich, chief of the Cooperating School Districts of Greater St. Louis, is the real question: "What," he asked, "happens when the stimulus package runs out?" "Is there going to be continued funding for Special Ed and Title I programs?" he asked. "Otherwise, all you're doing is hiring people, creating new programs to serve kids and you may not be able to afford them when the stimulus money goes away." That said, don't think the money won't help, he continued. "It had better," he said. "When the federal government goes out on a limb and gives this much money to public education, I think they would expect — very fairly — that the money is spent wisely." "And," he said, "you're not talking about chump change here." On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  27. 27. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 27 of 55 Senator champions oversight Stimulus put McCaskill in auditor mode. Ledyard King Gannett News Service Washington -- In a town known for dishing out money, Claire McCaskill comes off as something of a penny- pincher. As Congress debated the size and scope of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill signed into law Tuesday, Missouri's junior senator worked to make it smaller and increase oversight of how the money is spent. At the same time, she demanded Congress cap the pay of bankers whose institutions get federal bailout money, and she championed the cause of fiscal responsibility in addressing a panel she helped create to crack down on wartime contracting abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Being respectful of taxpayer money should be fundamental to everyone," McCaskill, a Democrat who was state auditor for eight years, said in a recent interview. "Because of my background, I enjoy going after it." McCaskill, 55, campaigned for the Senate in 2006 on a promise to challenge not only President George W. Bush's policies but also his management of the federal government. Democrats criticized the Republican-controlled Congress for doing little to question the administration's fiscal priorities and the handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After narrowly defeating incumbent Republican Jim Talent, the Rolla native wasted little time scrutinizing Pentagon practices from her perch on the Senate Armed Services Committee, including management of substance abuse treatment programs at Fort Leonard Wood. And she has made a point of supporting the Government Accountability Office -- the oversight arm of Congress -- and the inspectors general who monitor federal agencies. Her Washington apartment is next door to the GAO. "She's shown some leadership in (government) transparency and making sure that watchdogs have resources," said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, an advocacy group. "In that sense, she's doing a good job." Not all citizen groups applaud her. McCaskill's frugal ways aren't frugal enough for the National Taxpayers Union, which gave her a D for her congressional record in 2007, the latest year it has reviewed. A former prosecutor, McCaskill likes to evoke Missouri's favorite son, former President Harry S. Truman, by promising to bring back his "no-nonsense style of accountability." She sits on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, formerly known as the Truman Committee. Her desk on the Senate floor was once Truman's. McCaskill enjoys sharing her opinions with constituents on a raft of issues -- from Senate votes to morning workouts -- through Twitter, an online message board. And last month she took to the Senate floor to lambaste financial executives who got large bonuses while their firms received federal bailouts, calling them "a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer." On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  28. 28. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 28 of 55 Most members of Congress saw the stimulus bill as a chance to provide billions for education and transportation projects, and to give families tax breaks. McCaskill saw it as a chance to reprise her role as auditor. With her help, Congress added more money to oversee how the rest of the money is spent, provided greater protection for certain whistleblowers, set up a Web site to track expenditures and made sure the bill didn't include any lawmaker-sponsored earmarks, or pet projects. She also was part of a bipartisan group of about a dozen moderate senators who trimmed the Senate bill's price tag, which at one point topped $900 billion, so it would win enough votes to pass. "A number of senators have worked very hard to get us where we are," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev., said during a news conference before last week's vote, mentioning McCaskill by name. But the vast majority of Republicans in Congress don't think much of the rescue plan McCaskill helped craft. The final bill won just three GOP votes in the Senate and none in the House. "Unfortunately, this package became a target for projects and special-interest spending," U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said. "Some of the projects might be important, but this is neither the time nor place for a decades-old wish list." McCaskill is unapologetic. "I think we've done the best job we can," she said the day the Senate voted. "It's not perfect, but it is major tax cuts for over 90 percent of Americans. And it is a plan that will create lots of jobs. "I believe we'll look back and see today being the day that we began to turn the corner." On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  29. 29. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 29 of 55 ANALYSIS: Support but no money for anti- meth plan By CHRIS BLANK/The Associated Press February 22, 2009 | 6:59 p.m. CST JEFFERSON CITY— Last year, Missouri officials pledged to go high-tech in fighting methamphetamine, but the promised real-time electronic monitoring of the drug's key ingredients isn't being funded and hasn't gotten off the ground. "It's nowhere and dead in the water," said Mike Boeger, the interim administer of the Missouri Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Boeger, a 12-year veteran of the bureau, said it could take at least a year to start the electronic registry after it gets funded. But "you can't do anything until you get the money," he said. Missouri regularly is the nation's meth capital. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said the state led the country last year with 1,487 meth lab incidences. That's more than twice as many incidences as second-ranking Indiana, which had 707. Since a 2005 law limited purchases of medicines with pseudoephedrine — a main ingredient in meth — Missouri pharmacists have kept a paper record each time someone buys cold medicines such as Sudafed and Claritin-D. The logs slowed the number of meth labs, but they are increasing again as "smurfers," which is the street slang for those buying the ingredients, get around the limits by buying the maximum amount of the drugs at multiple stores. The legislature and then-Gov. Matt Blunt made a big splash last year by requiring an electronic record — rather than paper records — of the people who buy pseudoephedrine-based medicines. By connecting all the pharmacies into a single system, it's easier for police to track and harder for smurfers to exceed the limits because a store knows how much was bought elsewhere. Only a few other states have similar systems. Supporters claimed that putting Missouri on the forefront could put a significant dent in the state's meth problem. When he signed the provisions into law, Blunt described them as "dramatic steps." Sponsoring Sen. Norma Champion called it "landmark" legislation. So far, it's been all rhetoric and no money. Champion, R-Springfield, said she was counting on using a federal grant to pay for the electronic monitoring. She's now looking for new grants, ways to use Missouri's take of the federal economic stimulus money and the possibility of getting drug-makers to help foot the bill. "I really hate to get things passed that we don't fund," she said. "It feels good, and everybody thinks we've taken care of it, and in some ways, it's worse than not getting it passed because people think then the thing is solved." It could cost up to $1 million to start the electronic monitoring system and several hundred thousand dollars more per year to continue it. Missouri's chance at getting federal money for electronic monitoring of cold medicine purchases was pinned on the less publicized but more controversial part of Champion's bill that was designed to make "doctor-shopping" more difficult. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  30. 30. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 30 of 55 That would have required pharmacists to record and submit a patient's name, address and birth date along with the type of drug, amount and whether it's a refill or a new prescription for every drug prescription. The state House balked because of concerns over an overly intrusive "Big Brother" keeping track of Missourians' health records. And the prescription-tracking — along with the possibility for federal money — was dropped to get approval for cold-medicine monitoring. Rep. Jim Guest said the federal funding source isn't worth what he called a significant intrusion into privacy rights that would have occurred by electronically tracking all prescriptions. "There are so many threats to our privacy coming at us all the way that we need to be ever vigilant to protect our rights and freedoms," said Guest, R-King City. "Too much of our personal information is being divulged without our knowledge." Even as Missouri's most recent meth effort has been mothballed, the legislature is considering whether to go even further. Some lawmakers want to make pseudoephedrine-based medications available only to those who have prescriptions from doctors. They contend that would be cheaper for the state than setting up increasingly sophisticated monitoring systems. House and Senate committees this year have each considered legislation that would require a doctor's prescription to get medicines such as Sudafed. That's been done already in Oregon, and Boeger said it has all but eliminated meth labs there. The Department of Health and Senior Services hasn't taken a position on whether to support the legislation. Champion said she wants the focus to be on getting the funding to implement the electronic monitoring system. And she's worried about forcing Missourians with runny noses and watery eyes to see their doctor before picking up a cold tablet. "I really would like us to try this before we do overkill in not letting anyone have access to it," she said. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  31. 31. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 31 of 55 Beyond the stimulus infrastructure promise By BRAD COOPER The Kansas City Star A little more than a year ago, the experts were saying the country was woefully behind in transportation spending. Spend at least $140 billion more, they said, and spend it every single year. Maybe $250 billion a year at all levels of government and the private sector. But just 6 percent of the new federal stimulus package, or about $48 billion, will go for transportation. In December, Barack Obama promised that the new spending would amount to the “single largest new investment in our infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system.” But don’t think the dollars will come close to fixing all our crumbling roads and bridges, let alone shorten your daily commute. “It is clear to me the dollars being proposed do not live up to the rhetoric that preceded the stimulus package,” said Pete Rahn, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, at a recent transportation conference in Jefferson City. But big-ticket investments wouldn’t necessarily produce the kind of quick economic results the president wants. “Clearly, there’s improvement to bridges, roads, tunnels and interstates that need to take place, but I think the lead times are quite long. It’s very difficult to do that kind of spending quickly,” said Richard Geddes, a transportation expert at Cornell University. Locally, you can see examples of what he’s talking about. It took almost 20 years to see a new Interstate 435 interchange in Overland Park move from concept to reality. The new Paseo Bridge took at least 10 years. The White House stressed that the $787 billion bill contains $150 billion for infrastructure, which encompasses much more than highways, bridges and buses. It will modernize federal buildings, upgrade the power grid and install broadband Internet service in areas without it. “These things create construction jobs helping to put in place a 21st century infrastructure,” a White House spokeswoman said. But Geddes still wishes more money had been spent on infrastructure rather than items such as extending unemployment benefits. “If we’re going to spend this amount of money, I would have preferred that a larger fraction of it go toward those type of long-term investments,” he said. “In that sense, I think there was a missed opportunity.” The bill allocated $27.5 billion for highways and bridges, short of the $64 billion in identified ready-to-go projects. That’s about equal to what the federal government handed out to states for roads and bridges last year. Kansas Transportation Secretary Deb Miller was among those who expected what she called a “game-changing” moment with the stimulus. “I was hoping this would be the beginning of a real renewed reinvestment,” Miller said. “I think where we are falls short.” The American Society of Professional Engineers recently gave U.S. infrastructure a D grade, saying it needs $2.2 trillion in work and improvements. Pat Natale, the group’s executive director, predicted that the stimulus, when coupled with current infrastructure spending, could cut the deficit by half within about five years. But in his view, it’s just a bandage. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  32. 32. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 32 of 55 “It’s not what’s needed to solve the problem,” Natale said. Others agreed but said the stimulus bill sends a good signal about the administration’s long-term interest in paying for transportation. “Anyone who thinks the recovery package is the end of the work here is kidding themselves. There’s a whole lot more work we need to do,” Robert Puentes, an expert on transportation and infrastructure at the Brookings Institution, said after the bill was signed. Kansas has about $58 billion in transportation needs — highways, transit, aviation, bike/pedestrian and freight railroads — over the next 20 years. Missouri has about $30 billion in needs for 20 years. Many of those needs are local: upgrading Interstate 70 in eastern Jackson County, widening Kansas 10 from Lawrence to Johnson County or unknotting the interchange at K-10, Interstate 35 and I-435 in Johnson County. Some of the stimulus money is headed for U.S. 69 in Overland Park, Interstate 29 in the Northland and Missouri 150 near Lee’s Summit. One problem with the stimulus bill might have been public relations, said Jim Berard, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat and chairman of the House transportation committee. Berard suggested that the bill became associated with infrastructure because rebuilding highways was frequently mentioned with the stimulus. “In many ways, people saw this as an infrastructure bill, a highway and transportation bill,” Berard said. Berard said there was heavy competition for stimulus money from different interests, whether it was education, energy or the environment. Some experts said the stimulus was not the time for coming up with a new vision for solving traffic congestion headaches. That best can happen, they said, when Congress is debating a new transportation plan, probably later this year. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  33. 33. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 33 of 55 Blunt urges early debates with Carnahan By STEVE KRASKE The Kansas City Star Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Blunt on Saturday called out Democrat Robin Carnahan, saying he wants to debate her on any topic “anywhere, anytime.” Carnahan’s response: Not so fast. Blunt issued his challenge in Kansas City at Lincoln Days, the annual gathering of Missouri Republicans. The back-and-forth is one of the first skirmishes in the budding campaign for an election still more than 20 months distant. Republicans have been critical of Carnahan for announcing her Senate bid in a video. Blunt has traveled the state and met with reporters. Blunt, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives who is from Strafford in southwest Missouri, may not have a solo run to the Republican nomination. Also in Kansas City this weekend was Sarah Steelman, the former state treasurer, who said she’s looking seriously at a run for the Senate herself. Steelman and former congressman Kenny Hulshof clashed last year in the GOP primary for governor. Blunt said his challenge to Carnahan, Missouri’s secretary of state, was in response to Carnahan’s comments Thursday in which she said the congressman had been in Washington a long time and “will have some things to answer for.” “He’s been in leadership at a time when our country has gotten into a pretty big financial mess,” Carnahan said. On Saturday, Blunt asked if the comment was the best she could muster. Truth is, Blunt said, he’s been in Washington since 1997. Lots of other leading Democrats have been around a lot longer. Blunt said that on Monday his staff will propose three joint, televised appearances this year. Carnahan campaign spokesman Tony Wyche said it’s too early to join the fray. “We are over a year and a half from an election,” he said. “Everybody has other jobs to do for now.” He called Blunt’s remarks a “ploy,” adding: “There will be plenty of time to debate important issues closer to the general election. But this type of a challenge 20 months away only exemplifies the type of cynical gamesmanship of which Missouri voters have had far too much.” On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  34. 34. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 34 of 55 Smith Named Director of Missouri Republican Party KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The longtime chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson has been named the new executive director of the Missouri Republican Party. The selection of Lloyd Smith as the party's new director was ratified Saturday as Republicans gathered for their annual Lincoln Days conference. Smith plans to begin work full-time on April 1. He will succeed Jared Craighead as executive director. Smith, of Sikeston, has worked for 28 years for either Emerson or her late-husband, U.S. Rep. Bill Emerson. Smith also served as campaign manager for former Sen. Jim Talent and as a senior campaign adviser for President George W. Bush. Smith said his top goal is to keep Republican control of the seat held by outgoing Sen. Kit Bond in 2010. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  35. 35. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 35 of 55 Unusual interests band together in AmerenUE fight COLUMBIA BUSINESS TIMES BY JASON ROSENBAUM February 20,2009 For a few hours earlier this month, the Senate Lounge of the Missouri Capitol Building resembled some strange game of pickup politics. The two sides of the intense debate over reconfiguring the state’s Construction Work in Progress law were packed with notable heavy hitters preparing to testify before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment. So many people came to speak for or against the bill that reporters struggled to find space for observation. The lineups were unusual, a confirmation of the cliché that politics makes strange bedfellows The proponents’ squad featured labor unions, usually Democratic and liberal, banding together with business boosters, typically Republican and conservative, and a faction of environmentalists favoring renewable energy. Those interests hope the bill will pave the way for AmerenUE to build a massive power plant in Callaway County. The opposition featured a potentially powerful line-up. Included were major corporations worried about the impact of increased electricity rates, consumer advocates agitated about the effect of the price spike on Missourians and environmentalists wary of nuclear power. Watching the spectacle are Republican and Democratic legislators who will decide the issue’s outcome. Some legislators from both parties are exuberant about the prospect of building the power plant. Others are skeptical. But some say that it’s way too early in the game, so to speak, to predict the outcome of the highly-charged confrontation. “We’re in the first inning of the game,” said House Majority Leader Steve Tilley, R-Perryville. “They’re going to have to come together and make compromise if you want to see it through… If [the bill] comes to the floor and you have all these big businesses adamantly against it and consumers are against it, it’s probably not going to make it.” At stake is what would be the biggest construction project in the state’s history, a $6 billion nuclear reactor that could produce thousands of jobs and a jolt of economic development in the Mid-Missouri area. The law in question - which is commonly referred to as CWIP - prohibits utility companies from passing on the financing costs of power plants before they’re built. It was overwhelmingly approved in 1976 through a ballot initiative. While Sen. Delbert Scott’s bill would also carve out exceptions for non-nuclear power plants, the bill is seen by many as the vehicle for AmerenUE to construct a new Callaway County reactor. That’s because Ameren officials have repeatedly said they will not build the facility without alterations in CWIP, arguing that a failure to do so would push the cost up to around $9 billion. “We’ve been very clear with the investment community that unless we get some relief with this construction work in progress bill, we would not build another nuclear plant in Missouri,” Ameren CEO Thomas Voss said at the hearing. The competing sides spent roughly four hours debating the merits and the flaws of Scott’s legislation. An organization called Missourians for A Balanced Energy Future presented testimony to showcase a diverse coalition of interests supporting the CWIP alteration. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824
  36. 36. MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS D AILY N EWS C LIPS C o l l e c t e d / A r c h i v e d f o r M o n d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 3 , 2 0 0 9 -- Page 36 of 55 One member, former state Rep. Ed Robb of Columbia, said that the plant’s construction would bring about an unprecedented economic development boom for the state and region. “This type of project will have an annual impact of approximately $1.2 billion in the state’s gross state product,” Robb said. “This bill might not be perfect, but I have a great deal of hope and a great deal of trust that this committee… will get this project done.” But representatives of corporations such as Monsanto and Noranda Aluminum testified against Scott’s bill, arguing their bottom lines would be hurt by increased rates to pay for elements of the plant’s construction. On the Web : www.senate.mo.gov/sencom – Telephone : (573) 751-3824