The Buzz

TheChat: Missouri lawmakers fret about the lack of road funding


Let’s do it again.

▪ “When I have cities and counties talk to me about, we need an overpass, we need a bridge, we need safety upgrades, that’s not going to happen anywhere in the state.” — Missouri state Sen. David Pearce, a Warrensburg Republican, on the need for more spending on Missouri roads.

Pearce voted for a two-cent increase to the gas tax to boost that spending, but the idea faltered in the recently concluded session of the General Assembly. Spending is falling off the table for highways in the next couple of years, and Pearce and many other lawmakers are worried about the consequences.

▪ “We don’t have one piece of legislation that anyone here in this body can go home and say, hey, we did this for Ferguson.” — Missouri state Rep. Clem Smith, a Velda Village Hills Democrat, on what he called the Legislature’s failure to pass bills in response to last year’s crisis in Ferguson.

Said Smith: “Nothing has changed.” That’s not entirely true as lawmakers passed a measure aimed at curtailing municipal courts, such as the one in Ferguson, from using traffic fines as a city revenue source. Those tickets proved to be a major frustration in Ferguson. But even with that, the legislative response to Michael Brown’s death was hardly overwhelming. “It’s been inadequate to say the least,” said state Rep. Brandon Ellington, a Kansas City Democrat.

▪ “These things take numerous iterations. I was saying last week, it’s kind of like a combination code or a combination lock that has 14 numbers and you got to get all of them right.” — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback expressing confidence that lawmakers will find a way to close a $400 million budget hole and balance the next state budget.

It’s good that the governor is confident because a lot of others are having trouble seeing the way forward. Bottom line: This very conservative Legislature is looking at numerous tax increases to get this next budget balanced.

▪ “Hiding.” — the GOP on Hillary Clinton’s penchant for not taking questions from reporters covering her on the campaign trail.

According to one count, the Democratic frontrunner has taken only 13 questions from the press during the first 37 days of her candidacy.