Republican Governor-elect Eric Greitens has signaled he wants to move the state to the right of the political spectrum.
The incoming head-of-state’s chief spokesperson, Austin Chambers, outlined a set of four priorities for 2017 Thursday – jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform.
In three of them, there were elements embraced by conservative lawmakers. Chambers indicated there could be a move to open public schools to privatized options by specifying a need for choice in children’s education.
“A potential for that is education savings accounts” said Chambers. “This is something that the governor is looking in to. It’s an idea that he’s brought forward to the legislature and is working with them on. And it’s something that the governor, as he does more research on it and continues to meet with the legislature, it’s something that he’s seriously looking at.”
Chambers said Greitens would address jobs by focusing on right to work and tort reform legislation, both strongly supported by business interests.
Right to work laws typically weaken the power of unions because they allow workers to opt out of paying union dues. There’s a partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats on whether such legislation would stimulate job growth.
Chambers contends reforming the “tort system”, which allows people to bring lawsuits for wrongful acts, would also generate jobs. “We shouldn’t make this a trial lawyer’s heaven” said Chambers. “What we should make this is a place where it’s easy for businesses to grow and easy for jobs to be created.”
To improve public safety, Chambers says Greitens favors measures to protect law enforcement personnel, but he did not mention the well-being of residents.
Echoing recent statements by the governor-elect, Chambers offered two proposals to strengthen public safety. One would stiffen penalties for people who assault police officers. The other would implement a “blue alert” system, which similar to Amber Alerts, would inform the public when someone has injured or killed a police officer.
Chambers struck a bipartisan tone when offering proposals for ethics reform, which has been a signature issue for Greitens. But he mention a policy which could run into opposition from lawmakers, who often become lobbyists after serving in the legislature. He called it a “one-for-one revolving door ban”.
“What that means is if you’ve served in the legislature or in the executive branch for one year, then you’re going to wait for one year before you become a lobbyist” said Chambers. “If you’ve done two years, you’re going to wait two years. If you’ve done 16 years, you’re going to wait 16 years.”
He also mentioned banning gifts from lobbyists and imposing term limits on all statewide offices as key pillars to ethics reform.
As far as protocol for moving into office, Chambers noted there would be several changes. Greitens first State of the State address, which will take place January 17th, will not include a statement on the budget, which is normal procedure.
There will also not be an inaugural parade as Chambers said there wasn’t enough time. According the Missourinet’s former news director, Bob Priddy, one of the few times the inaugural parade was scrapped occurred in 1977 when a foot of snow fell the night before.
Chambers said a “national music star” with Missouri roots will perform at the January 9th Inaugural Ball. He declined to reveal who it will be, saying the artist will remain a surprise until that night.
When asked about the status of the scheduled state execution of convicted triple murderer Mark Christeson on January 31st, Chambers declined to comment.
Greitens announced a new director of the Department of Corrections, the agency which oversees executions, less than two weeks ago. The state Senate is required to confirm the appointment.