Talk about swift action in the lege. I can’t call enacting $25 million in tax credits to build a new Kansas City Chiefs training facility in St. Joe bi-partisan, because the House and the Senate sent the bill to Matt Blunt before Nixon was sworn in. In a year when the state faces somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 million in shortfalls, we’re going to help build fancy digs so helmeted Brobdingnagians can practice butting heads?
Oh, sure, the Chiefs’ owners pledged to make $50 million worth of common-area improvements to Arrowhead Stadium in K.C. And, who knows, maybe they’ll even be better at honoring their pledges than the owners of the St. Louis Cardinals were about Ballpark Village. Or not.
Nixon was surprisingly unflappable about this additional kink in his budget:, especially when you consider that the project goes $15 million over the usual Missouri Development Finance Board (MDFB) cap of ten million.
“This was an initiative of the previous administration,” Nixon said at his first press conference as governor. “No pun intended, but I’m not going to Monday morning quarterback that deal.”
But Democratic Senator Wes Shoemyer was blunt about his disapproval:
“What you’re going do is raise the ire of the folks down the street,” Shoemyer said, referring to lawmakers, “and get this board handcuffed so when we really need you, and really need the things you’re able to do, we won’t be able to do them.”
Did he get a little payback, though, when he pissed off Lt. Gov. Kinder by leaving him in the dark about his (the governor’s) own MDFB plans?
Although [Nixon] included Republican legislative leaders in his job creation plans, Nixon did not brief Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder about plans to use money from the Missouri Development Finance Board for a small-business loan program. That was a bit of an affront to Kinder, who is chairman of the finance board.
Nixon’s chief of staff finally met Friday with Kinder’s chief of staff about the small business loan proposal – three days after Nixon issued an executive order to develop the loan plan and more than three weeks after Nixon first outlined it.
I’m sure it was just an oversight–or a subtle reminder that sabotaging the bipartisan spirit doesn’t come without some cost.
But cooperation is still what each side has repeatedly said it wants. And it looks that way when Republicans endorse Nixon’s job creation plan, when Nixon attends a Republican social function and when he asks Charlie Shields to preside over the inauguration ceremonies.
It also looks that way when the new House Speaker makes committee assignments more fair, as the Missouri Budget Project reported in a recent newsletter:
In the House, Speaker Richard made significant changes that bode well for bi-partisan work. During previous sessions, Speaker Jetton greatly increased the number of “Special” Committees. The Speaker appoints both majority and minority members to Special Committees, allowing him/her maximum power to influence the make-up of the Committees. The majority and minority leadership appoint their members, respectively, to Standing Committees.
Speaker Richard reduced the number of “Special” Committees from 26 to 8. The (formerly) Special Committee on Health Care Transformation is now a Standing Committee. The Speaker created Special Committees on Health Insurance, Children & Families, and Infrastructure & Transportation Funding.
That’s nice. I’m glad the Republicans are being more fair. Then again, they [http://blog.showmeprogress.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=2265 blocked Jason Kander from a powerful committee and limited him to two committees, determined that the Democratic up and comer not get much power. An older hand in the House, Jeanette Mott Oxford, was also blocked inexplicably from the committee she should have been on:
Furthermore, the House Republicans insist on rules that don’t take bills in chronological order–as the Senate does. That makes it confusing for the public and even for legislators to know when hearings will be. Barely a quarter of the Democrats voted for this session’s version of the House rules.
As for Republican annoyance with our side, Ron Richard and Charlie Shields think Governor Nixon is being petty by asking anyone who enters his office to leave his cell phone outside.
After the House approved its rules early Thursday afternoon, Richard told reporters he doesn’t like Nixon’s rule but will respect it — for now.
“But I didn’t stage a walkout like the press” was going to do [when asked to leave their cell phones outside], Richard said. “I’ll stand by this. I’ll work with anybody until I can’t work anymore, and then I can be a pretty bad actor. But I haven’t gotten there yet. I’m still pretty open-minded.”
Whoa. I hope Richard won’t be compelled to become a bad actor over the cell phone affray. It would be a shame for all this newfound comity to go down in flames over such a trivial matter.