A leader among House Democrats says majority Republicans can expect support from their side of the political aisle on the pension bill being considered this special legislative session, but shouldn’t count on Democrats to pass the legislation.
House Assistant Minority Floor Leader J-C Kuessner, a Democrat from Eminence, says this will be a tough vote for House Democrats.
“There are still a lot of questions our members have. They’re hearing from teachers and they’re hearing from unions and they’re making up their minds as we go along,” Kuessner says. “But, I don’t think anyone has actually made up their mind to the point, that I know of, that they are totally against it.”
A pension overhaul bill has been filed in the House (HB 1), though it isn’t clear whether it was filed simply to meet technical requirements or whether it is the bill the House expects to pass. Sen. Jason Crowell, a Republican from Cape Girardeau, has pushed the overhaul. He argues that the state can no longer afford to provide fully-funded pensions to its employees. His proposal would require new hires who qualify for the MOSERS and MPERS retirement plans to make contributions to their retirements.
The Majority Floor Leader, Representative Steven Tilley, told the Missourinet he wants at least 40 Democratic votes before he works the Republican side of the House to pass the pension plan. Kuessner says that type of support among Democrats is possible.
“The reason he wants the 40 votes from our side is because it relieves the pressure off his side,” according to Kuessner. “Rep. Tilley has to remember that his party is in control up here. The voters put them in power. So, consequently to expect us to help them always to deliver is unreasonable.”
Kuessner says House Democrats will meet in caucus prior to tomorrow’s expected vote on the pension bill. The bill has been tied to the tax incentives being offered to Ford to maintain full production at the Claycomo plant in Kansas City, the two bills being considered this special session.