House Minority Leader Mike Talboy (D-37) took questions from the media
in the House Lounge for the House Democratic Caucus press conference on January 5, 2011.
Note: some of the questions from the media were inaudible on the audio recording – indicated by [….]
Representative Mike Talboy (D-37), House Minority Leader: …If you have any questions just go ahead and, uh, let us know and we’ll get either myself or the appropriate member up here to talk about whatever you have questions on.
Question: How are you guys, it’s a small group, gonna align against the Republicans when they try to steamroll you on everything?
Representative Talboy: Well, quite frankly, in the minority, um, it, it’s no different. We have thirty-five thousand five hundred people in each of the [inaudible] represented . We have fifty-seven districts that expect us to come down and represent what is important to them and we’re going to continue to do that. I think we’re going to hold the majority accountable if we don’t agree with their ideas and we’re going to try to work together to make good ideas better. And I think that is quite possibly, you know, the best we can, we can offer our constituents. And it makes no difference whether we’re in the majority or the minority, we’re gonna do the same thing.
I, I think any Speaker, whenever they don’t lose the speakership or the majority always thinks they have a mandate.
I don’t believe that anybody has a mandate on being able to represent the best interests of the State of Missouri….
….Question: Of all what’s outlined in the Showme Initiatives that he [Speaker Tilley] did what parts might you agree with what might you think are objectionable?
Representative Talboy: Well, uh, you know, I, it, it’s one thing of those things the devil’s in the details. I mean obviously this caucus has, has been fairly vocal on a couple of the issues that he’s brought up. Uh, you know, the first [inaudible] the overall costs you’re talking about, um, what significant programs are actually going to entail, implement, and to actually carry out. I think those are, you know, two of the points. You can talk like, one, about what these programs are gonna be, but if you don’t have a true valuation on those you may actually be spending us, spending us into even further economic problems than we have currently. And, well, I think that if you look at, uh, I know that there was great debate last year on the [inaudible] issue and I think that when you look at the overall cost of that program, while it makes for good headlines, the implementation may be disastrous to our state budget.
Question: What about education? Um, obviously just to talk about a lot of cuts there. [inaudible] Kansas City, I have a lot of friends there who are concerned about that district losing a lot of money [inaudible].
Representative Talboy: Yeah, I think that, uh, what we have to do is really get into the, the nitty gritty of what happens in the education process and talk about changes or, you know, reform or whatever you want to call it, we need to absolutely positively make sure that we aren’t harming the system in our zeal to try to try something new. And I think that is first and foremost what we need to make sure that we have our education professionals, the Sarah Lampes, the Genise Montecillos, the Joe Aulls, the Ira Anders and, and everybody in, in my caucus and everybody in theirs sit down and actually talk about what happens when some of these things hit classrooms. And what that effect has, not only on the teachers and the students, but the ability for the students to get to school, learn, and everything in between.
Question: Uh, seems like a pretty wide consensus that job creation/economic development should be the top priority this year. Where do you think this consensus [inaudible] ?
Representative Talboy: I think that in the House we haven’t had much of an issue as far as creating, uh, jobs packages and in getting them out with a wide, uh, swath of both parties supporting. Those traditionally have failed over in the Senate and, and have bogged down repeatedly over there. I think that now is the time we take a look at every program that has been implemented, that we are currently using, that has been proposed before, new proposals based on either one of those, or coming up with something that is so far fetched, but having that discussion, neither party has a patent on good ideas. And I think that that’s the one thing when you’re talking about job development that we need to make a concerted effort to do is make sure that both parties are at the table, we’re sitting down and examining every possible idea because we are in a very tough spot right now.
Question: Uh, how about the, uh, a lot of industrial business groups were in the capitol yesterday [inaudible] six priorities that [ inaudible] Republicans [inaudible] today [inaudible].
Representative Talboy: You know we haven’t gotten most of the details on some of those, but I, I think that I look forward to having those discussions and I think that we can, uh, talk to them and see where we might be able to agree or where we might be able to make agree, uh, a bill that we disagree with better.
Uh, I, I think that when you’re talking about a tax increase you can [inaudible] , you know, you have a lot parameters that go along with the tax increase. And when you have say, a cigarette tax has been proposed or some of these other things that have been proposed you have to look at what their overall valuation to the bottom line of our, our state budget and what harm to the folks in the state actually would be. And I think that’s one of ’em where there might be some consensus to talk about. There might be some, I think streamlined sales tax I know that that’s been brought up as far as collecting uncollected taxes and those, uh, states are moving towards implementing a streamlined sales tax for Internet sales. I think those are two things that you have heard a lot about and would be worth discussing.
Question: What are your thoughts about the possibility of giving the House Budget Committee subpoena powers?
Representative Talboy: You know, I , that was a, a new thing for me. I hadn’t heard that one in a while. And, uh, you know, I think that it’s gonna be interesting. I’m interested to see what act, what Steve and, and the folks in the Speaker’s office want to do with the budget committee and what Chairman Silvey is going to actually do with those subpoena powers and how they’re going to execute them. You know, throwing out there and saying we’re gonna have subpoena powers, what they’re actually gonna be used for I think is going to be [inaudible] telling than any [inaudible].
Question: [inaudible] understanding what might motivate that proposal?
Representative Talboy: No. That would be a question that I would ask him. I, I probably have the same question you do.
Well, I think that any time you start talking about, uh, subpoena powers , subpoenaing witnesses, it always, by its very nature, becomes a adversarial type of a, a situation. And I hope that it’s not going to make things more partisan and I hope that if they are going to have the subpoena power that they use it responsibly.
I, I haven’t experienced any issues having, uh, having a free flow of information, communication lines being open.
Question: Another rule change, uh, the Speaker talked about was, uh, shut
ting off amendments on bills on the floor. What do you think about that?
Representative Talboy: Well, I, you know, it, it’s interesting because I believe in the new Republican, uh, Congress in Washington, D.C. actually got rid of the closing of the bills in the rules committee, uh, after a couple of, of people complained over this last General Assembly that they had about what, uh, what the impact of that was and so I think that might be something we need to talk about.
No, I think that having the discussion, I’m open to talking about what the, that rationale would be or how you were going to use it, but I don’t think that that is something I would say absolutely positively is, is going to be a good idea to do under rules. And especially if, if you have the folks that just had it implemented on them talking at the national level about what a disaster it was, so much so that they got rid of it. Uh, I think that’s a conversation worth exploring and I, I continue to believe that.
Question: Speaker Tilley also talked, uh, in his speech about, uh, restricting driver’s licenses for people who [inaudible] speak English well enough to understand the test. Um, do you fear that that’s gonna be [inaudible] working legal residents, um, lose their transportation?
Representative Talboy: Absolutely.
Uh, I think I’m, I, my voting record’s pretty clear on, on that issue. I, this is my, beginning of my fifth year in this, fifth year that I’ve heard [inaudible]. It’s the first time in the Speaker’s address, when I first came down here Speaker Jetton talked about having English as the official language of the State of Missouri and they’ve I think tried to figure out new ways to re, repackage the same deal.
I, I hope that they don’t use the, the process to be partisan political, uh, with the representation of the 40th District in the State of Missouri. What we, what we know is there are, uh, two levels of, of the courts that have heard this case. They have both adjudicated it. It was a unanimous decision at the Court of Appeals. And unless there’s some evidentiary, uh, arguments that are, are contained that have not been brought forward and, and litigated I, that, that would be news to me.
Question: Representative Rizzo is here, um, I guess taking part in everything do you have any, uh, concerns that the investigation will lead to him being taken out of his seat?
Representative Talboy: Again, I, I trust our judicial process and I think that when you have those, uh, those justices stand and, and Court of Appeals judges, Circuit Court judges looking at the evidence that is presented to them and applied to [crosstalk]…
Question: But the in House, uh, with Tilley [crosstalk]…
Representative Talboy: Uh, again, I still think that you, you have to have a, a understanding and a respect for the, the law as written. Aand the evidence that’s been presented has not been able to overturn the law as it’s [inaudible] anything.
Question: So, so are you basically saying if Tilley starts up a special committee to take a look at this that they should just look at what the court rulings have already been and say that’s it?
Representative Talboy: I think that’s a very good, very good starting point. If they find something that they think is, is there I’m sure that they will discuss it, but I, again, I don’t think with as much media’s attention that has been given this, uh, this election, and it’s an August election, very beginning, we’re still talking about it the next year. Uh, I think that if there was something new under the sun we would have seen it by now and it would have been appealed to the Supreme Court.
Question: But ultimately it’s the Missouri House that will decide to, to [inaudible][crosstalk]…
Representative Talboy: And that’s, and again, that’s why I hope the process does not become political where you have the Speaker who endorsed the opponent in, in the Republican primary getting into party nomination processes.
Question: How would you characterize your working relationship with the Speaker?
Representative Talboy: I so far have enjoyed a very, uh, good working relationship. We have very good open lines of communication and I’ve enjoyed it thus far. It’s been, uh, you know, obviously I, I’d like to be Speaker, but. [laughter] But, I, I think that, uh, you know, if he’s, he’s exhibited a distinct change from what we have seen over the last two years and in the working relationship from that office. And, and [crosstalk]…
Question: The last two years, or last six?
Representative Talboy: Well [crosstalk]…
Question: Or last, I mean [crosstalk]…
Representative Talboy: I won’t, I won’t [crosstalk]…
Representative Talboy: …speak for, for Paul LeVota and to Rod Jetton and their relationship when, when they were there but I do know, being very close to the situation between, uh, Speaker Richard and, and Leader LeVota it was not necessarily the greatest of times.
Well, I think that you always pick and choose your battles. You don’t want to just argue for the sake of arguing. [inaudible] I don’t, I don’t think that gets us anywhere. I don’t think that’s ever gotten anybody anywhere. I think that what you, we need to do is make sure that if we disagree that we make sure that we express the reason we disagree, viable alternatives, and if we agree, discuss why we agree. And if we have ideas on how to make bills that we disagree or agree with better we need to express those points. Even if we know that they have the votes to pass the bill it doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t get up and talk about why we think what’s contained in those bills is an issue. And I think that being able to make sure that the citizens know what is in those bills and how that’s going to affect them on a day to day basis is absolutely something that we need to have.
Question: Do you worry about the numbers at all, like three votes short of an override majority, if three of your members move over they can override the Governor?
Representative Talboy: Well, I think that’s, I, I’ll worry about that when we find something that’s gonna be possibly be overridden as a veto but I, I don’t know, being able to tell you that, if I have any reason to worry. But I believe in my caucus and I believe in my caucus members and if they have an issue with something that they fundamentally and, and deep down in their core needs to be one way or the other then they’re gonna give reasons for it and they’re here to, they’re sent here to do a job and you have to respect the, they know their constituents best.
I spoke this morning with Representative Rachel Storch (D-64) in her office before the start of the day’s activities on the House floor. Our discussion touched on the legislative session, term limits, health care and economic development. And a final question about the Secretary of State’s office.
Representative Rachel Storch in her office in the state capitol building.
Show Me Progress: …Is it just more insane now?
Representative Rachel Storch: Well, it’s not so much that it’s crazier. It’s just that with the term limits we have of these people that don’t understand the issues and they don’t understand the process, and what’s worse, they don’t care.
SMP: I’ve heard this before, people talk about institutional memory. And, is there much institutional memory? Or where does the institutional memory come from if there is any?
Representative Storch: Well, we have one legislator who was here for twelve years before he ran this time, that’s Chris Kelly. But, he’s the only who’s here that has, you know, that extent of knowledge of the process. And, you know, I’ll tell you even though people like to make fun of the legislature, make fun of the legislative process, something like the budget is really complicated. And it simply takes time to get your arms around it to understand how that process, to understand what the issues are, to understand the needs of the different state agencies and the different programs around the state. So, you know, I think at the end of the day, the people of Missouri really suffer because the quality of the policy making is not as good…
…SMP: Do you think that repeal of term limits is part of the solution for that?
Representative Storch: Well, you know, I don’t know that some term limit is inappropriate, but I think that eight years is too short.You know somebody was telling me that in, in the olden days, before term limits, freshman legislators didn’t even speak because it was just assumed that, you know, it would take some time to learn the process. So those first two years were, that was when you had your training wheels on. And you wouldn’t dream of asking for a spot on the Budget Committee until you had been around for a few terms. But now we have freshman legislators, and no, I, I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, I actually think a lot of our freshman are just doing a terrific job of coming forward, aggressively, you know, speaking on issues. But the reality is, there’s just less of a knowledge base.
SMP: What do you think are the, the biggest disappointments of this legislative session.
Representative Storch: Well, you know, we still have three and a half days left of session. And things can happen quickly at the end. So it would be a little too premature, it would be a little premature to put the nail in the coffin in terms of the assessment of the session. I need to wait and see what happens before Friday at six.
That said, we really haven’t seen any headway on reestablishment of health care. We have between seven and eight hundred thousand people in Missouri with no health insurance, including a hundred fifty thousand kids. And we had an opportunity this year, using no general revenue dollars, no state taxpayer dollars, to cover thirty-five thousand low income people. The Hospital Association came forward and put this plan together and came to the governor. And had the support of Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats and the House Republicans said they wouldn’t do it. And they just wouldn’t go there. So, I, I don’t know that in the next few days that ideology will change. It’s, it’s, since it’s not a money issue, it’s clearly ideology. And there’s just no real will to put health care in place for those who need it most.
SMP: But, but doesn’t that, I mean, doesn’t the problem of access to health care? That, that’s not a, a geographic, you know, isolated problem or one of ideology, either. I mean, some of these representatives that voted against this have…
Representative Storch: Some of them represent very poor districts. There’s less health care in the boot heel than anywhere else in the state. So to see, you know, a legislator from that area vote against a program like this means, you think, that they’re voting directly against the, the quality of life for their own citizens in their districts, for their constituents. But, you know, we’ll see.
We also have not yet passed a real economic development bill. And with the economy in the state it’s in you’d think that would be a number one priority. It certainly was for the governor and actually, it was for the Speaker of the House, but some of the infighting between House and Senate Republicans has obstructed that legislation as well.
SMP: On a different note…I’ve seen a little bit of speculation that, if the Secretary of State’s office opens, is that something that you’re interested in? If that opportunity arises?
Representative Storch:…I am very interested. It would be an appointment by the governor, of course. So it’s a different situation, you know, from one where I would be lining up enough support for a statewide campaign. But I’m certainly interested. When I worked in the United States Senate I did elections issues, so I, you know, have some knowledge, the Help America Vote Act and I’ve done election protection work during different campaign cycles. And I think some of theses issues go to the most fundamental rights as citizens. And I would love to follow in Robin’s shoes. But, it will be the governor’s choice at the end of the day.
…And I, I love doing what I’m doing now. I would be very happy staying in this position and I also think that there are many ways to do wonderful public service without being in elective office. So, my commitment, first and foremost, is to public service. And I know that the opportunity will be there, in some form, to do it.
The internet, which emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as an outlet for national and international news.
Currently, 40% say they get most of their news about national and international issues from the internet, up from just 24% in September 2007. For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the internet for news than cite newspapers (35%). Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news, at 70%…