Archive for January 2010
The Robin Carnahan for U.S. Senate campaign has released fundraising totals for the 4th quarter of 2009. The Secretary of State raked in $877,000 in the quarter … bringing to more than $4-million the amount raised since she announced her candidacy a little under a year ago. Carnahan has $2.1 million on hand.
All Missourians running for federal office are required to file 4th quarter fundraising and expenditure totals with the Federal Election Commission by January 31st.
We, in the media, love to discuss and tear apart polls. A recent Rasmussen Reports survey gave Republican Roy Blunt a 6 percentage point lead over Democrat Robin Carnahan in a head to head match-up in Missouri’s 2010 U.S. Senate race. Today we have a new poll which was sent to me by longtime Democrat Tony Wyche – and it shows Carnahan out in front slightly.
The YouGovPolimetrix survey has Carnahan with a 43 to 39 percentage point lead over Blunt among decided voters … and shows Carnahan with a 40 to 34 percentage point lead over State Senator Chuck Purgason, who is also in the contest for the GOP nomination.
I must confess … I am not familiar with the polling firm – YouGovPolimetrix – but we present the results for your consideration, just the same.
Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville will roll out the red carpet for the Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council as part of the university’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford will speak in the Mary Linn Auditorium of the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, February 3rd.
Ford served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before launching a U.S. Senate bid that fell short. Ford is considered a moderate Democrat who finds common ground with Republicans on several issues.
Oh, by the way, Ford is also an analyst on MSNBC … meaning there’s a good chance he hasn’t been seen by a lot of people since he left the political arena.
The legislative session in the thriving Metropolis of Jefferson stretches from early January through mid-May … plenty of time to get a lot of legislation passed. Some might even suggest it’s a little too much time.
State Senator Luann Ridgeway of Smithville is among them.
She’s put forward SJR 38 – a proposal that would set the wheels in motion to change the Missouri Constitution to reduce the annual legislative session to 90 days, running from January through the end of March.
Ridgeway believes shortening the legislative session would restore the concept of the citizen legislator … a concept that would see our lawmakers spending more time at home and less time bickering at the State Capitol. She thinks some of the differences that are encountered during the session could first be brought up and ironed out in hearings that would be held prior to the whole General Assembly convening in Jefferson City.
Legislative pay could remain the same … and so would the per diem … but with fewer lawmakers at the Capitol four days a week during the session the amount of state money set aside for such expenses would be reduced.
One question from yours truly … what would the lobbyists do with all the extra time and with the money they now spend on food?
Missouri Democrats are launching an effort to take back the Missouri House of Representatives. It’s a two day swing through southeast Missouri next Friday and Saturday.
The "Road to the Majority" Tour begins Friday evening in Festus and Sainte Genevieve … and continues Saturday with stops in Cape Girardeau, Sikeston, New Madrid, Caruthersville, and Poplar Bluff.
State Treasurer Clint Zweifel headlines the fundraising tour … spreading the party message that Democrats can deliver jobs to working class Missourians.
Republicans have run the Missouri House since 2003. Democrats had controlled the House for about a half century prior to the 2002 elections.
Welcome to the game of "Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t"
Here are the rules.
You have to follow the law.
You have to play the political game.
You have a job. It pays you about $105,000 a year until at least January 23, 2012.
You want to keep your job.
You have to play the political game if you want to keep your job.
If you play the political game you have to turn a blind eye to the law.
If you turn a blind eye to the law, you will please certain political interests and individuals and they might not object to you keeping your job.
If you turn a blind eye to the law, you will violate the law which might disqualify you from continuing in the job.
The game is being played in the Missouri Senate where, on one wall, is carved the quotation attributed to Irish politician Daniel O’Connell (1776-1847) and to British politician William E. Gladstone (1809-1898): "Nothing is politically right that is morally wrong."
Another Gladstone quote, which is not carved on any walls in Capitol, is "It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right."
What will you do when rhetoric and reality collide?
Background: Several years ago the Missouri legislature decided farmland should not be evaluated for tax purposes for its market value but should, instead, be valued for its productivity. Farm groups liked that approach because it protected farmers who found suburbs have grown out to the edges of their property, driving up the market value of their land and causing taxes to unrealistically exceed the value of the crops or livestock raised on that land. Seems pretty fair, doesn’t it? The Tax Commission says productivity value is about 20% of market value.
Every couple of years, property is reassessed in Missouri. Residential, commercial, agricultural. The state tax commission determines the value of eight categories of farmland. Some land is so good that you could plant an eight penny nail and night and harvest a crowbar the next morning. Some land raises 150 pounds of rocks per acre. The tax commission has to decide the productive value of those two kinds of land and everything in between.
Land values go up and down. One year, the Missouri legislature sets up programs to subsidize development of an industry that will give some farmers lucrative new markets for their crops, particularly corn. Farm groups liked that idea. It would create new markets and give farmers higher prices for their corn.
You are one of the three members of the state tax commission. You must, by law, pay attention to studied done by the University of Missouri Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute. FAPRI comes to you and says the productivity value on 35% of Missouri farmland has gone up. Productivity value on 65% has gone down. Those figures are rounded off. A few decimal points of percent are the all-rock land that stays the same.
The Tax Commission proposal is to approve findings that the productivity value of about one-third of the farmland is up 29%. The productivity value of about TWO-thirds of the farmland is DOWN 25%.
You know that the state senate is controlled by a political party that has made the phrase "no tax increases" a very popular political mantra. You know that the state’s most politically-influential farm organization does not want any tax increases on farm land. You know that your own job is at stake because you have been appointed by a Governor who also has vowed not to seek any increases in taxes–and your appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate.
If you vote to follow the law, which requires a reevaluation of farmland (and which means a tax CUT for owners of two-thirds of the farmland, you will be voting for a tax INCREASE for owners of one-third of the land), you are placing your $105,000 job in jeopardy because you’ll anger the farm organization and you’ll anger the "no tax increase" majority in the chamber than will decide whether to confirm your appointment.. And the majority listens closely to the farm organization.
Never mind that by voting to sustain the new values for the eight categories of farmland you are also voting for a tax cut. By voting "yes," you are voting to increase taxes on some people and increased taxes of any kind on any body is about as popular in the state Capitol as a heart attack—regardless of the law?
So do you vote "yes" because you feel you have to follow the law and because your vote means a tax cut for the owners of the majority of Missouri farmland. Or do you vote yes, deny a tax cut to the owners of the majority of Missouri farmland but protect the owners of the better quality land from paying taxes based on the improved value of their property—and make it highly likely you’ll keep your $105,000 job?
The legislature has the power to reject the commission’s findings. It must take or reject everything. It cannot cherry-pick. The farm organization says it should. Resolutions have been introduced to throw out the commission’s tax cut for owners of 65 percent of Missouri farmland (the figures, by the way, come from the tax commission) and increases for owners of 35 percent. So far we haven’t heard anyone speak on behalf of the 65-percenters. Before you read any more, answer this question:
How would you have voted on the FAPRI recommendations?
Now you can read again.
This is no game for Bill Ransdall, who was appointed to the Tax Commission last November 3. Ransdall is a former Presiding Commissioner of Pulaski County and before that, served eight years in the Missouri House of Representatives. His resume includes experience in small business and farming.
His nomination came up for senate confirmation today. Senator Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau is blocking Ransdall’s confirmation. He says he’s just trying to hold Governor Nixon to his promise of "no tax increases," and Ransdall, who could have voted "no" voted "yes" to a plan increasing taxes owners of the state’s best farmland. Ransdall’s Senate sponsor has withdrawn his motion for confirmation of Ransdall’s nomination. Senate leader Charlie Shields says Ransdall’s job is not entirely down the drain, but it’s in the curved part of the pipe under the sink.
Our high school political science textbooks didn’t tell us about this part of things, did they?
And maybe Gladstone didn’t quite have it right when he said, "It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right."
If you were Bill Ransdall, how would you have voted?
If you were Senator Crowell, what would you do?
If you were a 65-percenter how would you feel about your organization landing on the side of the 35 percenters?
If you were a 35-percenter, how magnanimous would you be?
If you were a researcher with FAPRI, how would you feel after doing this research?
If you were a residential or commercial property owner whose evaluation in the marketplace is about five times the productivity valuation standard, what would you think?
And finally: What’s the solution to all of this?
Bob Priddy, News Director
There is good news for Missouri Republicans in a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race.
The poll gives Republican Roy Blunt a 49 percent to 43 percent lead over Democrat Robin Carnahan. Three percent of those surveyed prefer some other candidate, with five percent undecided. This represents a big shift since last month’s Rasmussen Reports survey on this race. It had Blunt and Carnahan in a statistical tie with Carnahan ahead slightly at 46-44 percent. September’s Rasmussen Reports survey had the two tied at 46 percent.
Rasmussen points to opposition to the federal health care overhaul legislation as a key reason for the shift:
“As it has for other Democrats throughout the nation, the health care issue appears to be creating challenges for Carnahan. Just 37% of Missouri voters favor the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, but 62% oppose it.”
While Carnahan has all but been assured the Democratic nomination, Blunt faces a GOP Primary challenge from State Senator Chuck Purgason of Caulfield.