The Tour of Missouri may be facing an uncertain future. But a handful of Democrats want the event to continue.
Media outlets were sent a letter today signed by a number of Democrats who wish to continue the cross-state bicycle race. Included on the signature list are Senate Minority Leader Victor Callahan, D-Independence, and House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence.
This year's event nearly didn't happen after Gov. Jay Nixon threatened to cut funding. After a few days, the governor decided to unfreeze the money. The event occurred earlier this month.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, released a statement today questioning President Barack Obama's decision to scrap plans for a missile defense apparatus in Eastern Europe.
Here it is:
“I am concerned about the Administration’s abrupt decision
today to cancel the long-planned missile defense deployment to two important
allies, the Czech Republic and Poland. In July, the Senate
unanimously adopted the Lieberman-Sessions amendment that stated that the U.S. missile defense system in Europe should be
capable of protecting the United States
and Europe. I urge the Administration to
explain to the American people and our European allies why this decision is in
the best interest of our collective security against the Iranian threat –
right now we have been given too little information to be sure that this is the
best path forward.”
Obama announced today that he was formally pulling out of the plan, which had been a major priority for former President George W. Bush. The plan, however, sparked anger in Russia.
Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, discussed state Auditor Susan Montee's audit of a lobbyist-infused fund used for social functions and gifts. He also discussed next year's legislative session, a period of time that will most likely be defined by a budget battle.
My final video of the day is of House Majority Leader Steve Tilley, a Perryville Republican who will become House Speaker if the GOP retains a majority.
Interestingly, Tilley said that he would not run for House Minority Leader if the Republicans lose the House to the Democrats. Rep. Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City, said his election today meant that he will either take the role of House Speaker or House Minority Leader.
The term-limited Jetton said at the time that the GOP went through the process early in order to focus on the 2008 election cycle.
"I watched the Democrats run for speaker, and it pretty much ripped
their caucus apart," Jetton said in 2007. "And
people were more focused on who was going to be speaker instead of
whether they were going to keep their majority, so to speak. I was just
asking myself, ‘How are we going to handle getting the new speaker when
I’m done?’ No matter how good a job you do, if you leave your
organization in a bad spot, you’ve ultimately failed."
“We’re so focused on recruiting the right candidates to win these seats
that calling someone a Speaker-elect looks past the idea of an
election," LeVota said in 2007. "And for the Republicans to do it, it doesn’t seem to make
sense for a party with a weak governor and a party that lost seats last
time… I think they’re looking past the game.”
Interestingly, LeVota called Rep. Mike Talboy - a Kansas City Democrat who was named Speaker-designate today - "Mr. Speaker" during a press conference. But it seems that today's election is a concession of sorts that choosing a leader a year ahead of time is a wise idea.
I asked LeVota whether Democrats were effectively following the same path as the Republicans did in 2007. Here's video:
There's been much discussion of a letter sent to the state's Commissioner of Education over funding for a program providing pay boosts to teachers who do work outside the classroom.
House Budget Chairman Allen Icet, R-Wildwood, and House Appropriations Chairman Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, sent a letter to Bery Schulte in June that said "it is the intent of the General Assembly that the FY 2010 appropriation for Career Ladder will be the last appropriation made in arrears for this program."
"The General Assembly cannot assure that participants in the Career Ladder Program for the 2009-2010 school year and beyond will be supported by state appropriation, and these potential participants should be notified of these changes," Icet and Nodler wrote.
House Democrats held a press conference today decrying the letter. They said the move amounted to a pay cut for teachers and promised to fight any slashes to the program:
After Rep. Maynard Wallace, R-Thronfield, expressed trepidation about the letter, Icet sent another note stating the prior correspondence "was merely to act as a warning that this program, along with all state programs, would be closely examined due to our severe decline in revenue."
"We do not anticipate the program being eliminated, but since the Career Ladder Program is the only program paid in arrears, we felt it was necessary to make all parties, especially teachers, aware of the possibility due to our drastic budget situation," Icet wrote.
Icet answered questions about the Career Ladder letter today at a Jefferson City press conference:
I caught up with Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, today before the start of this year's veto session.
Kelly - who serves as the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee - talked about next year's budgetary situation. He also answered some questions on the fate of funding for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and a bonding proposal to build capital improvement projects.