Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) has joined some Republicans in speaking out against plans by the House to purchase additional travel jets for members and other government officials. Her remarks, reported by the Wall Street Journal, are in line with the former auditor’s record of past concerns about earmarks and other types of government waste.
“The whole thing kind of makes me sick to my stomach,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) in an interview Sunday. “It is evidence that some of the cynicism about Washington is well placed — that people get out of touch and they spend money like it’s Monopoly money.”
Sen. Kit Bond, our senior senator and Republican from Missouri, also went on record opposing the planes purchase.
Whatever McCaskill’s motivations are in objecting to such perks – whether she is genuinely grieved by this specific form of government excess or whether she simply believes raising her voice is good politics – she should be commended for taking the right position here.
Hopefully, some leading Democrats in the House will have the guts to speak up against Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team on this issue.
I don’t often agree with McCaskill, but I’ll give her credit on this issue.
Rep. Tim Flook (R-Liberty) has introduced a bill in the Missouri legislature that would prohibit public school district officials from using taxpayer dollars to purchase alcoholic beverages. “It’s a sad day when there’s the necessity for something like this, but we’ve just got to do it,” Flook was quoted in the Columbia Daily-Tribune as saying.
An audit of the Liberty district showed that public school administrators spent thousands of dollars on alcohol last year, something Flook said has probably happened before in that district as well as others. His effort is one of several in recent years that have aimed to increase financial transparency and accountability of public school districts across the state.
One wonders if public school administrators groups will object to the proposed rule. It hardly seems like there could be many sensible arguments against it. How could serious educators possibly object to spending public education dollars – of which they always claim a greater need for – on direct educational expenses (teacher salaries and classroom supplies, for instance) rather than booze for adults? Rep. Mary Still (D-Columbia) offers a possible preview.
From the CDT article:
Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, agreed with the principle but said such policy should be set at the local level, not by the state. “As much as they need a good, stiff drink once in a while, they shouldn’t charge it to the district,” said Still, whose husband, Russ Still, is a former Columbia Board of Education member. “But I don’t think” a state law “is necessary.”
I am a proponent of greater local control, but if the state is going to pay for a great bulk of local educational expenses, naturally the state expects a say in how local districts spend money. Mr. Flook has offered a common-sense proposal aimed at protecting the taxpayer’s investment in public schools and restoring a sense of propriety to the administration and management thereof; he is to be commended for doing so.
For original reporting on this story, see Terry Ganey‘s piece in the Columbia Daily-Tribune, and this article by Chad Livengood in the Springfield News-Leader. Visit John Combest for the latest.
Neal St. Onge will take a staff position after leaving the legislature
Outgoing Missouri State Representative Neal St. Onge (R-St. Louis County) has been appointed to a staff job on the joint transportation committee, which he once chaired. The position has been vacant for three years and some have criticized the appointment as wasteful and unnecessary.
St. Onge will make around $60,000, more than he was paid as a legislator. As inspector general of transportation, he would help develop and direct state spending on transportation. However, members of the committee already works on those issues, along with the Missouri Department of Transportation. The department also works with private firms to audit contractor spending and the state auditor follows federal funds that state agencies receive each year.
All of which suggests that St. Onge’s position is redundant. Surrounding factors doesn’t make the situation look any better. The term-limited legislator lost a primary bid for higher office and it appears as though then sought this position himself. His appointment was made by outgoing leadership in the House and Senate, principally by Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill). Onge’s fellow chairman on the joint committee is Sen. Bill Stouffer (R-Napton), who said that St. Onge acted without his knowledge and that he thinks the staff position is unnecessary.
Adding insult to injury is that St. Onge never seemed to have no problem with big government while acting in his capacity as committee chairman. He backed intrusive seat belt laws and tax hikes to pay for new projects.
Everything about this appointment is suspect, and with any luck incoming Speaker Ron Richard (R-Joplin) will be able to rescind the action.