Yesterday the Missouri House and Senate passed HB 4, a budget bill for the Departments of Revenue and Transportation. This bill includes $421,667 for the Jefferson County Port Authority, which would be a big boost to the fledging port that has been a top campaign issue in recent elections.
Included in this bill is, as I mentioned, funding for the DOR, which has been under fire for scanning and saving documents of license applicants and sharing concealed carry license information with the federal government. As punishment, this bill only funds DOR for 8 months – the Legislature will come back in January to consider funding for the remainder of the year.
Apparently, this 8-month funding provision was so objectionable to JeffCo Democratic legislators (Reps. Roorda, Frame, McKenna, Harris and McKenna in the Senate) that they all voted against the bill.
@robvescovo amazing that all the Jefferson County Democrats voted against the appropriation….
— John McCaherty (@JMcCaherty) May 9, 2013
I’m not sure what the calculus is here. Obviously, this port money is a big deal, and these no votes will be used in future campaigns. Rep. Paul Wieland is already trumpeting the Democratic no votes (last paragraph below). What a way to kick off the emerging Wieland vs. Roorda race for state Senate next year.
It happens a lot in legislating that you have to accept things you don’t like to get something you want. But the tradeoff here that JeffCo Dems refused to make (as explained by Reps. TJ McKenna and Ben Harris in this audio clip) was the 8-month funding for the DOR. They fear that come January, the Legislature won’t provide the rest of DOR’s funding, and department employees will lose their jobs. Once again, like in Pevely, we see government types putting government employees ahead of other needs. I’m not sure why it is worth it to risk losing port funding to attempt to block a temporary reduction in DOR funding. I think the chances of the DOR not getting the rest of their money are minimal – nobody is going to shut the whole department down. There may be some party loyalty going on here, too, as it appears that all the Democrats in the House voted against this bill.