Emerson Joins Her Biggest Contributor
December 4, 2012

Southeast Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson will leave Congress to join a very familiar group.
The Southeast Missourian reports the 16 year Congressional veteran is leaving to head the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a not-for-profit organization that represents the interests of rural electric cooperatives and public power districts.
Emerson had a conference call from Washington, D.C., with reporters Monday during which she said the decision to leave Congress was one made quickly, and that she did not seek out the position. The electric cooperative association is among Emerson’s campaign contributors. The website opensecrets.org, which compiles data on money in elections and the political process, lists the association as Emerson’s all-time top campaign contributor, having given her $79,803.
Emerson said her pending departure wasn’t a long-planned move.
“This has all been very short and very quick,” she said. “You can’t always have control over the timing.”
Emerson said she has met with the board of the organization twice since the last election, and the board finalized a decision to hire her Monday morning.
Emerson comes from a family of Republicans involved in politics. Growing up in Bethesda, Md., her father once served as executive director the Republican National Committee. Before winning election to Congress, Emerson held various jobs with industry lobbying groups, including the National Restaurant Association and had worked in Republican politics.
On Monday she likened the NRECA and customers served by its members to her constituents.
“I just feel like its an extension of the job I am doing now,” she said of her new position.
The area she represents has nine electric co-ops that are members of the association.
Past challengers and Republicans in offices small and large floated their names as replacements for Emerson on Monday. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Cape Girardeau native, expressed interest, as did Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, whose last bid for office was an attempt at a U.S. Senate seat earlier this year.
State representatives Jason Smith, of Salem, Mo., along with Todd Richardson of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Kevin Engler of Farmington, Mo., also floated their names.
Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy was mentioned as a candidate. Cape Girardeau County Associate Circuit Judge Scott Lipke said he’s going to consider putting his name up for nomination, but that he’s not ready to make that decision yet. He’ll need time to pray and consult with family, he said. Late Monday, current state Rep. Wayne Wallingford, who was elected in the August primary to succeed state Sen. Jason Crowell, said he is considering seeking the nomination.
Crowell is being talked about as a potential candidate, but he hasn’t committed to an effort, citing the need to discuss the decision with his family.
“At this time I have no idea about my future plans, but I am humbled and honored by the confidence so many have shown me,” Crowell said in a statement sent Monday after receiving numerous inquiries about his interest.
Crowell’s term in the Missouri Senate ends in January.
A special election will be needed to select a replacement representative. The district covers 30 counties in southern and eastern Missouri. Political party committees in the 8th District will nominate candidates to run in the special election, the date of which will be set by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Steelman Picks Up Jason Crowell Endorsement
May 30, 2012

Sarah Steelman

Missouri Republican Senate Candidate has been endorsed by conservative State Senator Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau,

"Sarah is exactly the leader Missouri needs in the United States Senate," said Senator Crowell. "

"I trust Sarah to balance the budget and help restore fiscal sanity to Washington, D.C."

"Senator Crowell is a conservative leader who has truly walked the talk," said Sarah. "I’m proud to be endorsed by someone like Jason who has proven he is never afraid to take up the fight on behalf of the taxpayer.

Tilley Earmark for SEMO State, His Future Employer, Has Hung Up Missouri Budget Talks
May 9, 2012

KC Star:

A $2 million earmark for a university in Cape Girardeau included in Missouri’s $24 billion budget has effectively derailed the state Senate.

House Speaker Steven Tilley, a Perryville Republican, (right)wants the money added to the budget of Southeast Missouri State University. He points out that the school has the second lowest funding-to-student ratio among state universities and argues that he’s simply trying to fix the inequity.
But Sen. Jason Crowell, a Cape Girardeau Republican, has demanded the funding be removed.
Southeast Missouri State shouldn’t be the only public university that gets an increase in funding during a difficult budget year, Crowell said. And until the issue is resolved, he said he will block votes on every other bill for the remaining week and a half of the legislative session. That includes the state budget, which must be passed and sent to Gov. Jay Nixon by Friday.
“I know how to tie up the floor, and I’ll do it,” Crowell said.
He accused Tilley of only pushing for the funding because he’ll be a lobbyist for the university when his legislative career ends this year.
Tilley called Crowell’s accusations a lie. Both lawmakers are alums of Southeast Missouri State.

Read more here: http://midwestdemocracy.com/articles/schools-earmark-stalls-missouris-whole-budget/#storylink=cpy

Nixon Offers Budget Plan, Have Missouri Universities Loan the State Money
December 17, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — G, Linda Luebberingov. Jay Nixon wants five of Missouri’s largest universities to consider tapping their reserves to help plug a hole in next year’s state budget and avoid deeper cuts to the state’s higher education system.

Nixon’s proposal would call for the universities to provide the state $106 million from their reserves. The state would pay that money back to those specific universities in their operating budgets for the 2013 fiscal year, the governor’s budget director, Linda Luebbering, said Friday. Over the next several years, the state then would replenish the university reserves with money diverted from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.

The net effect of the money transfers is that the universities would shoulder the burden of the state budget cuts in the short-term but would be made whole in the long run. Luebbering described the money shifting as only an idea, not a definite plan. Nixon, a Democrat, is expected to outline his official budget proposal to lawmakers in mid-January.

Luebbering said significant cuts will be necessary for the state fiscal year that begins July 1, because revenue growth is not expected to make up for the loss of about $750 million of one-time funding sources in the current budget, including the last remnants of the federal stimulus programs.

“We’re going to have another very challenging budget year in 2013,” Luebbering said. She later added: “The global economy has just taken longer to turn around than anyone would have thought a couple years ago, and the resources have just not caught up yet.”

Under the proposal discussed by Nixon’s administration with university officials, the University of Missouri system would be asked to take $62.3 from its reserves; Missouri State University would supply $13.7 million and $10 million each would come from the reserves at the University of Central Missouri, Southeast Missouri State University and Truman State University.

The total of $106 million was intended to match the amount of money the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority already owes to the state over the next several years for a college construction program enacted during the tenure of former Gov. Matt Blunt, Luebbering said. Instead of going to buildings projects, the money would be diverted to replenish university reserves. But the loan authority hasn’t made its recent installment payments on the construction program because of its own financial concerns and because Nixon’s administration and lawmakers have instead tapped MOHELA for tens of millions of dollars to help make up for funding cuts to college scholarship programs.

State lawmakers have expressed concern both about the substance of Nixon’s proposal and the fact that they were not initially kept in the loop about it.

The general details of the proposal were first reported Thursday by the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, told the Tribune he opposes participation in the money transfers plan by Southeast Missouri State University, which is in his district.

“Exactly when did university presidents become Jay Nixon’s payday loan officers?” he asked

House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, called the plan ridiculous.

“The governor is looking for this scheme that avoids making tough decisions on cuts,” Silvey told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Rather than balance the state’s budget, he wants to dream up new revenues sources, which happen to be interest-free loans from our universities.”

Special Session Jobs Deal Has Its Skeptics
July 22, 2011

St. Louis Beacon via johncombest:

State Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, was arguably the chief reason an economic development bill — including tax credits for the proposed China cargo hub effort — died during the last legislative session.

And from what he’s heard so far, Crowell isn’t enamored of the “alleged deal” announced earlier this week by state House and Senate Republican leaders.

Since hearing of Wednesday’s news conferences around the state, Crowell said he called the leaders’ offices to ask for copies of the proposed legislation.

“I’ve been told they don’t exist,” Crowell said in a telephone interview. “I don’t vote on five-page summaries.”

The senator added that, in his opinion, it had been “grossly premature to do a fly-around and announce there’s a deal. I don’t know what this deal is.”

Crowell’s concerns could toss a wrench into what area business leaders, legislative Republicans and Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, hope will be swift approval of an economic development package during a special session that the governor has agreed to call. It likely will be held in September.

For the St. Louis region, a cornerstone of the deal is a plan to earmark $360 million in state tax credits to encourage development related to a proposed China cargo hub at Lambert St. Louis International Airport.


The money for that effort, and several other new or existing tax-credit programs, would be amassed by trimming or eliminating other state tax-credit programs. Overall, Missouri Senate and House leaders project that the deal’s proposed tax credit changes should save the state $1.5 billion over 15 years — or roughly $100 million a year.

Those savings come largely from trimming three existing tax-credit programs: historic preservation, low-income housing and a tax break for low-income elderly who rent.

The numbers offered Wednesday by state House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, and Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, call for annual caps of $90 million for the historic-preservation credit and $110 million for low-income housing.

That’s a savings of roughly $95 million a year over the average tax-credit cost of the two programs during the past three years.

The deal also calls for eliminating the tax break for low-income renters, which now costs the state about $57 million a year, according to the state Senate’s research arm.

Other proposed changes include:

• Ending the tax credit for families who engage in overseas adoptions, which now can cost the state up to $2 million a year;

• Capping the “brownfield remediation tax credits,” used to resurrect abandoned industrial or commercial property. The program would initially be limited to $40 million in annual authorizations over the next three years. Beginning in mid-2016, that figure would be reduced to $35 million.

• Barring or restricting “stacking,” where several state tax-credit programs are awarded to the same project.

• Phasing out state tax credits for neighborhood preservation.

Crowell agrees with some of those aims, although he observed that he was hearing that some proposed caps “had more holes…than a southeast Missouri levee.”

But he reaffirmed that his chief complaint long has been that state tax credits are treated differently than other state spending.

In the case of the China hub proposal, Crowell said the project should go through the same appropriations review as state spending for public schools.

Missouri’s spending on tax credits has quadrupled in the last 12 years, he said, while for many years, state aid to public schools has been cut or flat.


Backers of some of the tax credits fear that the wrong ones are being targeted for trims or elimination. Alan Erdman, head of Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri, said he would like to see lawmakers more evenly distribute the tax burden in the state.

“We cannot balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable population, be they children or the elderly or the handicapped,” he said. “We have a social responsibility to care for those people.”

Erdman proposed that the state consider expanding its sales tax to include sales on the internet and revamping the state income tax. He added that he expects his agency and others to make their views known to legislators — but he isn’t sure how effective their efforts may be.

“They’re afraid of doing something that would more fairly distribute the tax burden because it might be too much of a political issue,” Erdman said. “So instead of that, they take aim at people who have no political voice.”

Glenn Koenen, executive director of the Circle of Concern food pantry, said he hopes lawmakers consider the direct, effective benefits of tax credits such as those going to food pantries, which legislative leaders put on the list to go away by 2015.

“Every dollar they give us for tax credits,” he said, “we are getting $2 to help families. We’re very efficient. It’s a win-win situation, and it’s very direct. It’s not like some of the building tax credits, where you have a five or 10-year turnaround and can’t tell whether it’s going to be a success until some time down the road.

“We’re the concrete version of what a tax credit should be. We’re the easy ones.”

Meanwhile, another frequent tax-credit critic — state Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield — appeared to be softening his initial concerns about the announced economic-development agreement.

Purgason said he has since been assured that what was announced was “the basic framework of an agreement” that is still in flux.

“I’m going to be the bill’s handler, so it’s very important that I’m on board,” Purgason said. “I will only move a bill that I’m comfortable with…I’m optimistic the final details will come together.”

Purgason said he will support the final version only if it truly encourages economic development, “protect essential state services” and “protects the majority of taxpayers who have to pay the bills for these things.”