State lawmakers return this week for the annual Veto Session, not a special legislative session. That occurred earlier. Some state lawmakers question whether that special session could have waited until this week and whether it was needed at all.
Sen. Jim Lembke, a Republican from St. Louis, didn’t see a need to rush on the manufacturing auto tax credits, known at the Capitol as the Ford bill, since its primary target was providing Ford up to $100 million in tax breaks to entice the auto company to bring new production to its Claycomo plant in Kansas City. He believes the pension bill could have waited until this week.
Lembke congratulates Governor Nixon on his political instincts in tying the Ford bill which the Senate opposed to the pension bill which the House opposed.
“And the governor thought, ‘Well, I’ll put both the bills together and tie them at the hip and make it a necessity that both would pass if either were going to go anywhere,’” Lembke says.
He says that move ensured that both would pass during the special session that began the end of June and wrapped up in July. Lawmakers approved changes to reduce the cost of state worker pensions.
Republican State Representative Jeannie Riddle of Mokane has many state workers in her district. She worries about how the changes will affect recruitment and retention.
“Our state employees here in Missouri are some of the lowest paid employees in the nation,” Riddle says. “So, for us to target that group again is very disconcerting. Now, we had to address the pension plan. To pay $400 million a year to left it up is not OK out of general revenue. We have to address it.”
The General Assembly gathers Wednesday for the annual veto session.