My KBIA commentary this week takes a look at Gov. Jay Nixon's decision to exercise his line-item veto pen. It also looks at his decision to withhold funding from a number of projects - including the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.
Gov. Jay Nixon has warmed up to a proposal that would issue hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bonds to pay for capital improvement projects.
But that support apparently doesn't extend to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
Kinder released a statement a few minutes ago panning the proposal, calling it "nothing
more than another government bailout that will put our state in debt for nearly
a quarter of a century."
"This bonding initiative is merely a debt plan that
will fail to put any Missourians back to work in the near future," Kinder said in a statement. "The
risk of failure is too great."
Kinder's statement added that the governor should "utilize the one time
funds available in the state's bank account and fund the construction projects
that legislators authorized just a few months ago."
"THAT is a plan that
will truly make a difference for hardworking Missourians,” Kinder said.
While Kinder dubbed the proposal as "the governor's bonding initiative," it was prominently championed over the legislative session by Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia. Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, handled the measure in the Senate.
While the proposal passed the House, it was filibustered in the Senate.
Kelly took questions about the plan last week, soon after Nixon announced a string of line-item vetoes and withholdings:
ADDENDUM: I just received an e-mail with the following quote from Schaefer:
"My support of the original bonding measure was to fund bricks and
mortar projects that would get Missourians back to work. At the end of
this legislative session, that goal was greatly accomplished with the
passing of House Bill 22. The money to fund many of the Lewis and Clark
projects, with the priority being the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, is
available for the Governor to release today. I still support a bonding
proposal that allows the voters of Missouri to decide whether the State
should incur debt for capital improvement, and I'm glad the Governor
now supports it too. But, I have no intention of supporting a measure
that enables the Governor to spend the one-time, job-creating, capital
improvement money we gave him on his annual operating budget while at
the same time asking tax payers for more."
U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt has wrangled up a bunch of endorsements over the past few weeks. But today's pair might be the biggest catches of all.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, backed Blunt's bid for the U.S. Senate today. Only one other person running for an open seat - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist - received a similar endorsement.
"He is traveling the state, engaging voters, and offering solutions to the economic, health care, and education needs facing Show Me State voters," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "While the likely Democrat nominee prefers to remain silent or undecided on the challenges confronting our country, Roy Blunt is - as he always has - providing critical leadership at home and in Washington."
The move could freeze out potential GOP challengers - such as former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman or state Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield - from being about challenge Blunt financially. Blunt has also received backing from essentially every major Missouri Republican political figure in the state.
There is much buzz today over a Supreme Court decision on a reverse discrimination case emanating out of New Haven, Connecticut.
The 5-4 decision overturned a decision that had been penned by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
From the Washington Post:
The Supreme Court today narrowly ruled in favor of white firefighters
in New Haven, Conn., who said they were denied promotions because of
their race, reversing a decision by Judge Sonia Sotomayor and others
that had come to play a large role in the consideration of her
nomination for the high court.
The city had thrown out the results of a promotion test because no
African Americans and only two Hispanics would have qualified for
promotions. It said it feared a lawsuit from minorities under federal
laws that said such "disparate impacts" on test results could be used
to show discrimination.
In effect, the court was deciding when avoiding potential
discrimination against one group amounted to actual discrimination
The court's conservative majority said in a 5 to 4 vote that is what happened in New Haven.
"Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on
race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and
qualified for promotions," wrote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
As the world continues to come grips with the death of singer Michael Jackson, an editorial cartoonist for the Missouri Record is poking fun at one of the Show Me State's most prolific political bloggers.
Cartoonist Bryan Stalder created this cartoon poking fun of KY3 political reporter David Catanese's penchant to Twitter. Although he's not directly identified, a cartoon version of Catanese asked a mustached politician to repeat his quote in "140 characters or less."
Gov. Jay Nixon's decision to withhold or veto a number of higher education projects did not elicit a positive reaction from University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee.
In a statement, the head of the four-campus system characterized Nixon's actions as "disappointing:" "The University of Missouri System is disappointed that the governor
has chosen to withhold funding for Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in
Columbia and Benton/Stadler Halls at the University of Missouri-St.
Louis, as well as eliminate funding for the agricultural experiment
station projects across the state. As a practical consequence, all
planning for these projects must come to a halt as the university
re-evaluates its options.
These construction and renovation
projects enjoy wide public support and address long-standing problems
with aging facilities that no longer serve the purposes for which they
are intended. We fully understand the state is facing challenging
financial times, but eliminating or delaying funding for shovel-ready
projects represents a missed opportunity to stimulate the economy by
providing jobs and better education and health care services for
State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, called Nixon's budget decisions "devastating." He added that while it was positive that a veto of the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center was avoided, getting Nixon to relese the money could be a challenge.
Gov. Jay Nixon decided not to veto a $31 million allocation for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. But that doesn't mean the project doesn't face obstacles.
Nixon announced that funding for the University of Missouri-Columbia project - as well as three other higher education capital improvement endeavors - will be withheld. Nixon ended up vetoing a number of projects connected to the University of Missouri-Columbia in rural portions of the state.
The project is part of a seven-story "medical tower" on the University
of Missouri-Columbia campus. The Ellis Fischel Cancer Center will
encompass two floors of that structure.
On the one hand, Nixon's decision means the legislature won't have to reallocate the money or try to overturn the governor's veto. But by withholding the money, Nixon can effectively cling onto the funds for an undetermined period of time.
Nixon cited the worsening economy for his decision-making, arguing that he doesn't want Missouri to go through budget nightmares of other states.
"These are important projects, we hope to find a cost-effective way of moving forward on them," Nixon said. "But the dollars, in short, just aren't there."
Here's Nixon's talking about the project:
Because of Nixon's decision, Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said people will know that the funding for the project "will be there, ultimately."
"And second, the possibility exists that we can get some of money released if it's needed to make the tower go," Kelly said. "So, I'm very encouraged."
When asked if the move would delay the construction of structure, Kelly said "I don't necessarily think that."
"It's possible, but not by any stretch of the imagination likely," Kelly said. "It's certainly possible."
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed $105 million worth of spending in the state budget and plans to withhold roughly $325 million.
The governor laid out his budget-making decisions in a news conferences a few minutes ago. He announced that roughly $24.7 million for a statewide police radio system was vetoed, as well as $16.5 million from various MOHELA projects.
But he also is "restricting" $91.3 million from existing MOHELA projects. That includes the $31.2 million allocation for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.
The withholding - which Nixon termed as "a restriction" - means that the governor can delay sending out the cash to fund the project.