A rocky road for good government in Missouri
The Kansas City Star
The Missouri General Assembly convenes Wednesday. I would like to think a meeting in the capitol today wasn’t a preview of things to come, but I fear it was.
As recounted in this St. Louis Post-Dispatch story, the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri’s Transportation Needs convened to discuss ways to come up with money for highways and bridges. There was talk of asking voters to approve a one-cent sales tax, though that would be a breathtaking move for the Republican-dominated legislature.
In fact, GOP House Speaker Tim Jones said Tuesday he’d prefer to take money from “entitlement” programs, like Medicaid, to pay for roads and such.
Jones’ predecessor, Republican Steve Tilley, appointed the bipartisan transportation committee. He quit the legislature early and now is a lobbyist for two highway construction firms in the St. Louis area.
To co-chair the transportation committee, Tilley reached out to another former GOP House speaker, the controversial Rod Jetton, whose mingling of politics, money and legislating launched a federal investigation. It resulted in no charges, but Tilley could have found a less tainted person to chair an important commission.
(Tilley did better with the other co-chair, choosing former state Sen. Bill McKenna, a Democrat from Jefferson County.)
Jetton now is a marketing person for a civil engineering firm and he says he is starting a news service in Jefferson City this session.
So, to recap, we have one former House speaker appointing a committee to raise money for roads, and then going off to make big bucks lobbying for the road builders. But not before he appoints as co-chair of the committee another former House speaker who still is associated with sleaze in Jefferson City.
And, rather than even talk about the logical step of increasing Missouri’s very low gas tax to raise money for roads, the current House speaker suggests that the state raise money by making it even harder for low-income Missourians to obtain health care.
Already it’s looking like a long session.