Callahan’s Bill to Dissolve KC School District Heard in Jeff City
January 31, 2012

(AP) – A Missouri Senate committee is hearing testimony on a plan to revamp the way the state deals with failing school districts.

The proposal provides for dividing the geographic territory of an unaccredited school district among neighboring districts. It also would let students in unaccredited districts attend parochial or private schools with scholarships funded partly by state tax credits.

Tuesday’s testimony before the Senate General Laws Committee came as the state is grappling with how to deal with the Kansas City School District, which recently lost its accreditation.
Democratic Senate Minoirity leader Victor Callahan’s bill would permit the neighboring districtnext to kansas City to absorb the unnacredited Kansas City district.
The St. Louis School District also has been unaccredited for several years and is now being governed by a special board.

The legislative proposal also would expand the availability of charter schools in districts that lack accreditation.

Nixon Rolls Out Auto Parts Supplier Bill With a List of heavy Hitters to Back It Up
January 27, 2012

Missourinet via johncombest:
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon rolled out an impressive list of supporters for his auto-parts jobs bill. Nixon presented the plan Thursday in Wentzville near the GM auto Assembly plant there.
The list includes Kansas City Democratic heavy hitters, House Minority Leader Mike Talboy; Senate Minority Leader Victor Callahan, and Gladstone St. Rep Jerry Nolte.
Nolte, a Republican, was one of the sponsors of the ‘Ford bill’, of 2010 that helped the Ford Claycomo plant in suburban Kansas City.
Missourinet reports:
The automotive industry incentive component of the Governor’s job creation strategy has found its backers in the House and Senate, and they come from both sides of the political aisle.

In his State of the State Address and stops around the state, Governor Jay Nixon has promoted his Missouri Works plan. It would expand on the provisions of the Missouri Manufacturing Jobs act of 2010, which helped promote expansion at Ford’s Claycomo Plant in Kansas City and General Motors’ plant in Wentzville. Legislation introduced this week basically targets those incentives at manufactures in the automotive industry.

The House version, HB 1455, will be carried by Representative Chuck Gatschenberger (R-Lake St. Louis). He says, “Those manufacturers of vehicles … they need brakes, they need windshields, they need trim, they need engines … and not all of those are built right there on that spot.”
Parts makers qualify under the proposal if the products they make are used by an automaker. Companies with at least half of their sales coming from parts used to modify vehicles can also qualify for incentives.
Gatschenberger says it offers two options to those companies. “One is if you employee five employees, you’re gonna get the same benefits with withholding the taxes that you pay from the state for the benefit of the company. The other aspect of it … there’s a lot of companies in this state that are not going to be able to employ five people but they can employ two people. If they do two people and $100,000 of investment in their business, they can fall under the same guidelines.”
Gatschenberger says it also includes some clawback provisions. ”Let’s say they have those two people but they lay two other people off. Then they lose the benefit. It’s not the specific people that they hire, it’s the total number of people.”
The package increases the standard incentive period to five years, from the three found in the 2010 language. Companies would get a tax break equaling 5 percent of their new payroll if wages are at the average for the county, 5.5 percent for wages that are 120 percent of that average and 6 percent for wages at least 140 percent of the county average.
Gatschenberger notes the package opens up incentives to all auto manufacturers, not just Ford and General Motors, “So if Nissan thinks, ‘Hmm, we might want to put a plant somewhere but where are we going to put a plant,’ it’s making the carrot bigger and jucier.”

Missouri School Reform, Bundled? Or 1-by-1?
January 22, 2012

KC Star:
Missouri lawmakers are facing increasing pressure to deal with a potential flood of student transfers stemming from the loss of accreditation in urban school districts like Kansas City’s.
But looming over this year’s legislative session is a pledge by House Speaker Steve Tilley, a Perryville Republican, that any plan to deal with school transfers to suburban districts, or adjustments to the state’s school funding formula, be coupled with ideas that have doomed previous reform efforts.
Those include controversial measures such as expanding charter schools, eliminating teacher tenure, basing teacher pay on student achievement and offering tax credit vouchers to parents who want to send children to private schools.
“I don’t want to draw a line in the sand,” Tilley said. “But what I’m telling you is that I think they should be connected and that’s my intention.”
Bolstering that point was Tilley’s decision during the legislative session’s first week to increase the size of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, a move that added members who have previously advocated for many of those same ideas.
“If we’re going to do the foundation formula or the (school transfer) fix, I’d like to get something in return for it,” Tilley said.
Many lawmakers fear that tying the success of bills dealing with the school transfer law, the funding formula and a host of other issues could complicate matters to the point where nothing gets done.
“I think some people are looking at a potential crisis in funding or the transfer issue and see it as leverage to finally get movement on some of their priorities,” said Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee’s Summit Republican. “I think tackling everything individually makes more sense if we really want to get something done.”

Read more here:

KC Lawmaker Raising ‘Aerotroplis’ Questions, $360 Million on the Line
September 12, 2011

A major piece of the Missouri Legislature’s special session is taking hit. And more may be coming. Especially from a Kansas City area State Senator, Luanne Ridgeway

The bill is the plan to offer $360 million in tax credits for a foreign trade air cargo hub at St. Louis’ Lambert Field. It is often called the, “Aerotropolis” tax credit plan.

Missourinet reports Ridgeway believes the bill has a second agenda, to manage the debt of an underutilized airport (Lambert Field).

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s staff told Ridgeway that is not the case. The project would create jobs for Missouri and establish a base for increase trade with China coming directly into Missouri.

Ridgeway is threatening to slow the bill down on the Senate floor by requiring the entire text of the bill be read aloud to the Senate.

Monday afternoon, Missourinet reports the state’s Economic Development Department will present a report on the plan to state senators.

Friday, in a letter to Maryville State Senator Brad Lager (R Maryville), the Economic Development Department estimated a $10.2 million dollars state investment in the ‘Aerotroplis’ 400,000 sq foot warehouse project would directly created 215 new jobs.

The machinery and manufacturing element would produce 75 new jobs off an additional state investment of nearly 5 million dollars.

Copies of that letter also went to House and Senate leaders, including House Speaker Steve Tilley; Senate Pro Tem Rob Mayer; House Minority Leader Mike Talboy of Kansas City and Senate Minority leader Victor Callahan of Independence.

(Missourinet via johncombest contributed to this report)

TKC: Rev Thanks the Legislature for Keeping Him Out of Redistricting Battle
May 7, 2011

Kansas City Congressman Emanuel Cleaver did not mention the Missouri redistricting battle in his current edition of the ‘EC Insider’, his weekly newsletter.

But he did send a personal letter to five members of the state legislature. He thanked them for their work on, basically keeping him out of the redistricting firefight.

‘Tony’s Kansas City’ blog has a copy of a letter sent from Rep. Cleaver to Sate senators Victor Callahan; Jolie Justus and Kiki Curls. It also went to St. Reps Michael Brown and Jonas Hughes. All of them voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the Republican majority’s Congressional map.

Cleaver thanks the state lawmakers for their work. He mentioned that Missouri was losing a Member of Congress because the state’s population growth did not keep pace with the nation.

He added, “The population dearth in the St. Louis area was going to result in a contraction in eastern Missouri, so no matter what-the problem has been and remains there”.