There has been quite a bit of news since our last newsletter. On June 30th, Governor Mike Parson has rendered his final decisions on all budget items. Just before the 4th of July holiday, Governor Parson signed or vetoed all bills containing the policy items that were sent to him by the General Assembly during the past legislative session.
Of the 41 policy related bills that made it to Parson’s desk, all were signed into law with the exception of SB189, which was a wide-ranging crime and public safety bill. Although the legislation contained priorities of many law enforcement groups, Parson took exception to a provision in the bill which could have allowed certain criminals convicted of sexual offenses to have their records expunged and, in some cases, have their name removed from the sex offender registry. Another section mentioned by the governor was a provision allowing payments from state coffers to persons that were wrongfully convicted. Parson opined that the state should not pay for prosecutorial errors made at the local level.
On budget related legislation, the Governor took the axe to numerous projects earmarked in the FY24 spending plan sent to him by lawmakers. In total, Parson issued 201 vetoes, cutting $550 million in spending from the $51.8 billion state budget. In issuing the vetoes, Parson stated he was doing so to “ensure the financial stability of Missouri beyond my administration and the current General Assembly.” The Governor’s budget vetoes include $46 million for an allied health building at St. Louis Community College; $10 million for the Brickline Greenway Trail in St. Louis; $2 million for a gospel Music Hall of Fame, Art Museum and Research Center in St. Louis; $7 million for a 911 Dispatch Center in St. Charles County; $10 million for a 911 Dispatch Center in St. Louis; $3 million for a Community Center in Kirkwood; $6 million for improvements to the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District; $5 million for drinking water infrastructure in St. Charles; $5 million for removal of condemned property in St. Louis County; $6.6 million for improvements to Route 370 at Salt River Road; as well as numerous other programs and expenditures in the St. Louis region and around the state. Many lawmakers and local officials took exception to Parson’s vetoes, especially since the state currently has over $8 billion in surplus revenue.
In other Capitol news, several personnel changes have taken place recently in the Governor’s office. Kelli Jones been named Deputy Chief of Staff, having previously served as Parson’s longtime Communications Director. Other moves include naming Stephanie Whitaker as the new Communications Director and Jonathan Shiflett as Press Secretary. Additionally, Parson has tapped Mike Leara of St. Louis to serve as the next State Supervisor for the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control. Leara served as state representative from 2009-2017, and most recently was the chairman of the Missouri Gaming Commission.
Next on the Capitol calendar is the constitutionally mandated veto session on Wednesday, September 13. Lawmakers will then have an opportunity to override any vetoes of legislation issued by the Governor. We will keep you apprised of any political events or happenings in Jefferson City and around the state. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group LLC