November 23, 2014

Missouri House launches effort to create bond proposal

The effort to create a bonding proposal in the House is afoot.

House Speaker Tim Jones (at podium) announces the filing of his bonding proposal along with (from left) Budget Chairman Rick Stream, Representative Chris Kelly and Representative Lincoln Hough.

House Speaker Tim Jones (at podium) announces the filing of his bonding proposal along with (from left) Budget Chairman Rick Stream, Representative Chris Kelly and Representative Lincoln Hough.  (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

A bipartisan effort has been announced to create what proponents bill as potentially the biggest jobs package in state history. House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) says what it would support and other details must be worked out by a committee he has created.

“The bonds, if they’re approved, would of course have to be submitted to the voters for final approval but our suggestion would be at the outset we would look at financing construction at college campuses, repairs at state mental health institutions and office buildings and as I mentioned, perhaps even this could be one of the components for our transportation needs.”

Jones says a bonding proposal would be a jobs package.

“We can actually put people to work almost immediately because, as I mentioned, these projects are on the books. All the institutions I mentioned simply revamp their project wish list every year and they’re ready to go as soon as the General Assembly puts something on the ballot which would hopefully be supported by a majority of Missourians.

78 representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of the proposal with both Republicans and Democrats among that number.

Read the plan that’s been filed, HJR 14.

At the top of the co-sponsor list is Representative Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) who Jones appointed to head the committee that will hammer out the House’s proposal.

Kelly says it will begin with the same 950 million dollar plan that has been filed in the Senate.

“Where it goes is going to be an organic process that our committee, the budget committee and ultimately the floor will work on. The Speaker has instructed us to find a way to deal with the transportation issues … we don’t have all the answers for him yet but working with the committee members, we’re going to try to find the answers and try to fit these two things together appropriately.”

The Fulton state hospital is likely to be a target for part of the proceeds. Representative Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane) says rather than try to update what’s there, a new facility is needed.

“Building a new hospital will change the dynamics of what it’s costing the state right now in utility costs because it’s a very old building, in staffing costs because we have the long hallways and the dynamics of the building would be vastly different now with today’s policies, and with workmen’s injuries … the employees and the injuries that they are incurring there.”

The cost of a new, modern mental health facility to replace the Fulton hospital is estimated at $211 million.

Jones says he doesn’t want to rush the process, adding he hopes to see a compromise reached with the Senate by the end of the 2014 session.