Supporters claim it’s all about accountability. Critics question whether it’s more about retribution. The House has approved more legislative oversight of the Missouri Housing Development Commission.
The MHDC budget would be subject to legislative appropriation. The commission would no longer be allowed to keep millions in its bank account. The executive director would be required to live within a short drive of Jefferson City.
Rep. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) suspects this has little to do with making the MHDC accountable to taxpayers.
“The argument in committee from those on each side of the aisle who supported this legislation was not about good policy. It was about retribution of some sort,” Schupp said during House floor debate. “And for what, Mr. Speaker, I’m still trying to learn.”
Critics suggest some key lawmakers, such as Columbia Senator Kurt Schaeffer, a Republican, and House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) took recent meetings with the executive director as personal affronts.
Supporter Chris Kelly of Columbia dismissed the suggestion.
“My senator and the Speaker are big boys. I don’t care if she’s rude to the Speaker. I don’t care if she’s rude to my senator,” Kelly responded during floor debate. “What I do care about is the fact that their budget is beyond the reach of the taxpayer.”
Kelly says the legislature must have more authority to oversee the MHDC. Though HCS/HB 546 is sponsored by Rep. John Diehl, a Republican from Town and Country, its biggest champion during floor debate became Kelly. The bill passed the House on a 128-28 vote. It now moves to the Senate.
MHDC uses state and federal tax credits to help finance the construction of apartment complexes for the poor and to provide incentives for Missourians buying their first home. It is financed through housing transaction fees. It has offices in both Kansas City and St. Louis.