My short-take: I have sympathy for Prof. Wall’s case that the Quality Jobs Act doesn’t actually add jobs to our state economy. In contrast to proponents who offer (1) anecdotal evidence, (2) make-believe Keynesian REMI models, and (3) charts counting every credit claimed as a “job created as a result of the tax” without regard to whether the tax credit actually caused the job to be created or not, Prof. Wall looked at actual county-by-county data – and found evidence of job growth lacking.
However, I’m no rube. The Quality Jobs Act has powerful bi-partisan defenders. Any effort to simply do away with it would go nowhere fast. And there is a middle ground for reforms to improve the program’s success rate. I’m interested in finding that middle ground. We need more Express Scripts and Monsantos in Missouri – and no more Mamteks. This could mean adding discretion to the program, reducing caps, incentivizing capital investments, providing quicker redemptions with strong clawbacks for those quick redemptions, and/or other options. I’m open to ideas.
Rudi Keller reports on the latest in the Mamtek fiasco – the company’s one-time financial officer says that Mamtek’s documents presented “corporate, economic,and criminal red flags that (the financial officer) concluded should have been apparent.” The officer’s report is consistent with the findings of the Committee on Gov’t Oversight and Accountability last year. As Keller reports, here’s what I said:
“The report is consistent with the findings of our committee,” Barnes said. “The fact still stands that drive-by due diligence is not good enough when we are talking about taxpayer money, whether it is” the Department of Economic Development “or the bond industry professionals in this case.”
To the Department’s credit, and as noted in Keller’s article, it has taken steps to adopt several of the proposals I put forth last year to prevent another Mamtek from ever occurring again.
I filedHB 327this morning to require local government and the state of Missouri to publicly disclose debts which the government has guaranteed but which they do not presently have to disclose.
If a government acts like a co-signor on a loan for another organization, it will have to publicly disclose both the fact that it has co-signed and make qualitative assessments of whether the local government believes it will ever have to pay money to make good on the other entity’s debt. When facts change that make it more likely than not that a local government will have to start paying someone else’s debt, they have to make that publicly known as well.
To put it simply, if a government is promising our taxpayer money to shore up someone else’s business proposal, they have to tell us about it – even, and especially, when it looks like things might be going poorly. The bill tracks proposed changes to government accounting rules by theGovernment Accounting Standards Boardand keeps a specific pledge I made on this site in June to work to improve government accountability in economic development projects.
The House perfected HB 110 this afternoon which clarifies the method by which vacancies in statewide offices are filled by requiring special elections allowing voters to decide who will represent them. We also fixed a problem with municipal elections which, if passed and signed into law, will help Jefferson City.
This was an easy vote. I’m amused that members of the party of Andrew Jackson are standing against special elections and instead prefer appointment by the executive.
All reasonable people should agree that the integrity of elections is important to our democracy. Republicans have tried for years to protect elections through voter identification bills designed to cut down or eliminate voter fraud. Those efforts, however, have been made more difficult by the constitutional challenges.
I filed HB 232 this morning to protect the integrity of Missouri elections, speed up voting lines, and move the voter identification debate beyond the constitutional issues. This bill would require local election authorities to use e-pollbooks, with the state purchasing at least one e-pollbook per precinct. An e-pollbook is an electronic voter registry that looks and works a lot like an iPad. E-pollbooks bring voting machinery completely into the 21st century.
If a voter showed up without an acceptable photo id, the election judges could use the e-pollbook to create an id on the spot – that would then stay in the system and serve as that voter’s photo-id for the current and future elections.
HB 232 sidesteps the constitutional questions because there would be no absolutely impediment to voting for those who do not have and cannot afford a photo id. They would simply need to show up at the polls on election day and have their photo id made at that time.
In addition, the move to e-pollbooks would speed up voting lines. We’ve all been there before on big election days – when we show up the line is out the door. Of course, we stay in line to exercise our constitutional rights, but it would be better if the line moved faster. E-pollbooks will speed up the process by going to a digital system instead of the paper system.
Virginia Young reports on early efforts to renew benevolent tax credits for pregnancy resource centers, food pantries, and child advocacy centers.
“My goal is to show that the Senate is functional,” said Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin. “We’re going to try to get some things done early that everybody agrees on.”
“I think enough people believe that they’re worthy, and we’re going to deal with them on their own,” Richard said. “We’re going to try to get some wins.”
Yes! I agree with Senator Richard and am hopeful that extensions of these tax credits can move quickly through the legislative process. It’s unfortunate, but a few Senators who have since matriculated thanks to term limits quite literally took women and children hostage in the tax credit debate. These credits don’t belong in the larger debate on tax credits. They are limited – and aimed at causes with overwhelming support. Let’s extend them and save any fights for the other tax credits.
Committee assignments were handed out today. I’m pleased to announce I’ve been named to the following committees:
1. Government Accountability – I have been named chairman of the committee on Government Accountability. This committee was originally created to investigate Mamtek. We have also looked into state contracting and failures by some departments to carry out responsibilities. This committee will continue looking for ways to find and eliminate inefficient, irresponsible, or unaccountable government spending and programs. The committee’s major emphasis this year will be investigating the efficacy of certain tax credits.
2. Education – I have been named the vice-chair of the committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. In this role I will work to ensure every child in our state has the opportunity for a great education – regardless of where they’re born or how much money their parents have.
3. Appropriations – General Administration - The appropriations committee for general administration oversees the budgets of statewide elected officials and state employee benefits. Just as I have the previous two years, I will use my position on this committee to protect state employee benefits to the best of my ability and to make sure elected officials are living by the same budget constraints as other state employees.
4. Urban Issues – As the “gentleman from urban Cole” now, I’ve been appointed to the committee on urban issues. This committee is new to me. I’m looking forward to learning more about the bills before it in the weeks and months to come.
Should Missouri voters have a say in who serves as their lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer or United States Senator in the event there’s an unexpected vacancy in the office? Rep. Jason Smith thinks so – and so do I.
Elizabeth Crisp reports on House Bill 110 in the Post-Dispatch - a bill which would clarify that, in the event of a vacancy in any of these statewide offices, the governor has the power to make a temporary appointment, but voters get the ultimate say in the very next general election.
I predict this will be the first bill passed by the House this year. And the ayes will have a veto-proof constitutional majority.
Arthur Brooks explains how five of every six dollars in new revenues for the federal government from in the fiscal cliff deal are immediately re-distributed in the form of corporate welfare in the next two years. Money quote:
So it’s basically the rich makers are redistributed to the rich takers. That’s basically what Obamanomics is all about in a nutshell. That’s how it works. And he talks about redistributing to poor people and working people and helping people and all that.
In related news, the Washington Post reports that AIG is considering whether to sue the federal government for the bailout. This is not a joke: the theory is that the bailout was a Fifth Amendment taking because its terms were too onerous. As the Post reports, the theory is “patently ridiculous” to anyone who followed the bailout closely.
Though nearly half of Quality Jobs Act mega-projects (defined as authorizations over $1m) end up creating no new net jobs at all, there are several success stories. The following projects delivered more than promised: