Phil Wright of Madsen & Wright, a lobbyist registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission, spoke on Thursday night to the Johnson County Democratic Club on the recently concluded legislative session. His presentation covered a wide range of subjects including the impact of economic stabilization and stimulus funds, term limits, controversial bills, and the budget. His talk (and questions from the audience) was well over forty minutes long. What follows is a transcript of a portion of his presentation dealing with the budget process this session:
Phil Wright, Madsen & Wright, speaking to the Johnson County Democratic Club on Thursday night.
Phil Wright, Madsen & Wright: [23:01]…Let me talk a little bit about the budget process. And I do follow the budget…And it was…I don’t think you’ve ever seen it like this year in where the subcommittees go through their hearing process. And they had a parade of people come and give their testimony and they talked to them about the issues and things like priorities and that are needs for their area. And the subcommittees make their recommendations; they hear reports and then make their recommendations and they, to the, to the budget committee. Well the budget bills have already been written. Behind closed doors. They haven’t been introduced, so anybody can see them. And so, all that work was just sort of wasted. It wasn’t, it wasn’t taken to account. Nobody really did anything with it, but because the chairman, Allen Icet [r], wrote, wrote the bill and dictated on what that was going to be. He had his plan on how he was going to do it. And then the chairman in the Senate Appropriations, Gary Nodler [r], had his plan and how he was going to do it. And then you had the Governor’s office who had to administer all this, so they had, they were trying to figure out a plan as well…
…Now I do believe that the Senate and The Governor’s office were talking much more than anybody was ever talking to the House. It became very obvious when, in years past there’s been, okay, the House is gonna put this money in ’cause they don’t want to touch this one issue, but the Senate will touch that one issue, they’ll put some money in. And then when, and then whenever they get to conference, they’ll trade it out. Well, in this year the House did their thing, the Senate did their thing. And, and they’re like this. I mean, there was never, there was never a, there never seemed to be a connection until conference, and even then it was just kind of, it, it was just a very bizarre process. About the time you start to have things figured out, that they were changing on you. And, and move money out, and, you know, we saw House Bill 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 and 22 introduced. Completely, and a lot of that time, because they were moving money around, they were saying, “Well, I don’t like, I don’t like what’s in that bill, so I’m gonna put, I’m gonna do my thing over here in this bill.” There wasn’t really any rhyme or reason to it. It was more about, it, they, they weren’t going to pay any attention to the process. It was ugly to watch. It was ugly to try and participate in. And it was damn hard to participate in it…
…But it was also hard for legislators to represent their constituents. I, I don’t see how, I mean I talked with, with Representative Hoskins and Senator Pearce on a regular basis to try to help them figure things out and so they could help me figure things out, too. And it was difficult because the information was not being shared. At all. They were asking, they were looking, and the information was not being shared. And, so I don’t know how, hopefully the process will be better next year. Yeah.
Show Me Progress: I find it interesting because, you know, Denny Hoskins is on the budget committee, am I correct? And he ran as a CPA.
Phil Wright: Yes.
SMP: And he’s, it’s now he’s got trouble with the, the process of the budget? Or was he cut out of it?
Phil Wright: Every single legislator on the committee knew nothing, except for the chair. And if, and if, but if others did know, and they weren’t, and they weren’t sharing it, they were very good at hiding it…[26:54]