Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Highway Commission Chief Says I-70 Toll Road Will Not Solve MoDot Money Problems
December 15, 2014

The head of the Missouri Highway Commission, Stephen Milleer, says converting I-70 into a toll road may improve the interstate, but would not help the state’s other highways or the state’s tight highway budget.
“This is not going to be a solution for all of our transportation needs. I-70 is just one project,” said Miller.
Governor Jay Nixon has asked the Missouri Department of Transportation to report to him by the end of the month on the potential for a toll-road on the rural portion of the interstate, about 200 miles.
In 2012, MoDOT produced a white paper on the same topic. It was entitled ‘A Public Private Partnership to Rebuild and Expand I-70 in Missouri’.
That report stated that the state already has all the necessary environmental approvals; federal permission to rebuild I-70 as a toll road and it “frees up money spent today on I-70 that could be used on other critical projects”.
The report also estimates auto would be charged about 10-15 cents a mile. That would add $20 to the car trip from Kansas City to St. Louis, at 10-cents a mile.
The report also says the rates for trucks could be” two or three times that”
The total cost for a revamped I-70 as a toll road was estimated at $2-to-$4 billion dollars at that time.
Miller says MoDOT started looking at the possibility of an I-70 toll road after the defeat of Amendment 7 at the polls in August. That was a sales tax increase for transportation in Missouri. One of the projects was adding a third lane to I-70 each way across all of Missouri.
The head of the Heavy Constructors Association in Kansas City, Ed DeSoignie was a member of a citizens panel that looked at the Missouri road system for the state legislature.
DeSoignie says the state’s transportation fund is in a crisis after the sales tax defeat. He claims the MoDOT finances are facing “falling off the cliff”.
Miller says MoDOT current budget of $485 million provides for maintenance or the current system and no improvements. He also warns that without help, that fund drops to under $400 million in 18 months. Both Miller and DeSoignie thinks the state will have to look at some other ideas.
“Any of those options are going to require the public to fund it someway. Whether you call it a toll or a tax,” Miller said

Blunt, McCaskill & Hartzler Get New Committee Assignments
December 15, 2014

Missouri Republican senator Roy Blunt has been reappointed to the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a statement from his office.
Blunt served on the same committee in 2011 and 201. He was also a member of the Permanent Select Committee on intelligence when he served in the House.
““I look forward to building on my experience working on these issues in the House and Senate. I also plan to stay fully engaged in the discussion surrounding the relocation of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and working to ensure that facility stays in Missouri,” Blunt said in a Statement.
Blunt has also served on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee.
With two major military bases in Missouri, the Army’s Ft. Leonard Wood and the Whiteman Air Force Base, military spending is important to the US economy.
Both Blunt and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill have served on the Armed Services Committee together.
McCaskill today announced she would be the new ranking Democrat on the Senate’s Aging Committee. Democrats will be in the Senate minority for the next two years after the party losses in November.
Western Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler was appointed to lead the House Armed Services Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
That panel will study and investigate problems of waste and abuse in the nation’s military.
” “I look forward to working with Chairman Thornberry as we work to make sure that our armed forces remain the best in the world,” Hartzler stated in a news release.

Mixed Results for Kansas Child Support Parent Collections
December 15, 2014

(AP) – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says privatization of the state’s child support collection system has been a good move because it made collecting the money more cost-effective.

But while the governor says Kansas collected $5.89 for every $1 spent collecting it in fiscal year 2014, other data indicate the state collected the lowest percentage of child support in the past 14 years.

The Topeka Capital Journal reports the state collected 54 percent of current support that was due, the lowest percentage since the state had a 48 percent collection rate in 2000.

The state also collected less in total dollars for parents in 2014 than in the previous year, while the percentage of payments in arrears that was collected hit a 13-year low.

Ellington Wants to Dump Grand Juries
December 12, 2014

KC Star:
State Rep. Brandon Ellington said Thursday he wants to abolish grand juries in Missouri.

The Kansas City Democrat said he’d filed a bill to do so. If the General Assembly agrees, the proposed constitutional amendment would go on the November 2016 statewide ballot.

Ellington’s bill comes on the heels of a highly controversial grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

“Trust in the legal system requires an open and transparent process,” Ellington said. “Grand juries, by contrast, operate in secrecy and under the complete control of prosecutors, undermining public trust in the system.

“In light of the biased grand jury proceedings that took place in the Michael Brown case, Missourians should have the chance to consider whether the antiquated grand jury process still serves a legitimate purpose in our modern criminal justice system.”

Ellington noted that use of grand juries dates back centuries. They’re used to determine if the evidence is sufficient to proceed with prosecution.

Read more here:

Brownback: I’m Working on $chool Funds & State Pensions
December 10, 2014

(AP) – Gov. Sam Brownback says he’s working on proposals for changing how Kansas distributes aid to public schools and for bolstering the pension system for teachers and government workers.

But the Republican governor provided no details during an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press. He said only that his administration is researching options on school funding and pensions.

Brownback’s comments came a day after he outlined a plan for closing a projected $279 million shortfall in the state’s current budget. His plan received bipartisan criticism because he directed the state to divert nearly $41 million from the public pension system.

He said he did so to avoid cutting aid to public schools and higher education spending.

But he also said the state can’t sustain increases this year in education funding.


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