Republican Governor Eric Greitens says he would give the Missouri Legislature’s work this session an incomplete grade. The 2017 regular session ended on Friday.
“What’s the grade I would give the legislature? Frankly, sometimes it looked like third grade. Sometimes you had career politicians who instead of actually fighting for the people of Missouri and fighting for jobs, they were singing kumbaya,” says Greitens. “Instead of actually fighting for our law enforcement officers and having their back, they were out there reading Shakespeare. Those are exactly the kind of games people are sick of.”
Greitens is referring to Sen. Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City, and Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, who recently sang kumbaya on the Senate floor. The singing might have helped to shut down Republican infighting in recent weeks that Greitens has participated in.
Senators have also been known to read on the floor to stall a proposal up for debate that they oppose. The delay tactic is also used when members are trying to work out a compromise during floor debate.
Greitens indicates that he could call a special session.
“Sometimes when you don’t complete all of your work, you need to go to summer school,” says Greitens.
He says he’ll review the legislative bills on his desk and make a decision about a special session in the near future. Lawmakers have passed 59 policy bills and 16 budget bills.
Greitens says he’s proud of legislation passing this session that would ban mandatory union fees in the workplace and another measure that would notify the public when a law enforcement officer is attacked.
He’s not giving himself a grade but describes his administration as the most successful start of a conservative administration in a generation.
Greitens butted heads this session with members of the General Assembly, most notably Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph. Schaaf repeatedly criticized Greitens for refusing to release information about some campaign donations.
In April, a political action committee formed to further Greitens’ agenda took on Schaaf by releasing attack ads implying that Schaaf is liberal and opposes legislation backed by the party. Schaaf criticized Greitens, claiming the ads were misleading, and stated he was a strong proponent of banning lobbyist gifts and changes to campaign finance laws.
Senators spent several hours one evening in late January debating a measure about a pay raise for state legislators and statewide elected officials. State senators and representatives would have received a $1,800 raise while statewide officeholders would have gotten an 8% pay increase in the next two years.
Media reports said Greitens camped out in Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard’s office to speak to Senators who favored a pay increase. Greitens reportedly used tactics that night that rubbed some of his colleagues the wrong way. One criticism was that he was trying to twist lawmakers’ arms and pressure them into voting against a pay raise. Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said she did not condone his behavior but said he’s more involved than the previous governor.
When it was time to vote, the Senate rejected the pay increase.