am always relieved when the state legislature breaks for the summer. Most of us do not follow state government, for good reason. It is a messy circus. If you do follow it, you are a government nerd or just like watching train wrecks; cause it has plenty most years. When they break for the year, it is most often a sense of relief for onlookers.
Luckily, this year, the Jefferson City circus had to play second fiddle to that pesky virus running around the planet. It may have played a part in actually making the entire session a little more productive than usual.
The budget became the biggest story of the year as large cuts need to be made to keep up with the crater like damage that is expected to be done to revenues this year. The budget slashed 134 unfilled state jobs and cut funding in other major areas, that includes the runaway money train called higher education.
That is likely not the last of the cuts. Expect a special session to recalibrate the losses in revenue and any money the feds chip in.
Platte County’s Tony Luetkemeyer had a solid session. He pushed the senate bill that is set to become law that prevents stimulus payments from being subject to state income taxes and also requires county assessors to do a physical inspection of real estate prior to increasing a property’s assessment more than 15%, preventing statistical models from setting the pace for the values of your homes.
He was also the senate bill handler in the prescription drug monitoring case, which would have put Missouri on pace with the other 49 states in the union in terms of prescription drug monitoring. The hope was the law would discourage doctors from continuing to supply grandmas with heroin like opioids and pharmacy hopping customers from manipulating the system. The Senate moved the bill forward after some skillful compromise in the Senate, but it died a pitiful death in the House. Missouri remains the only state without a statewide electronic database to help spot the abuse of prescription drugs.
Honestly, Luetkemeyer had an MVP type legislative session, despite the shortened legislative season. I’m not sure if those are real awards, but if not, we’ll see if Foley can make a paper Mache’ trophy and send it to the Capitol.
I was never very artsy. My paper mache efforts always ended up looking like a lump of spray painted, dried up toilet paper. Fairly sure my elementary art teacher pitied my lack of talent.
For the record, kicker Mark Mosley was named the MVP of the NFL when they had a strike-shortened season in 1982, so not sure if Luetkemeyer will be thrilled with this “honor.”
Despite the upper market level compensation I get for this column, my real-world job is in real estate. There is good news, Platte County. The April real estate reports came out last week for the Kansas City metropolitan area. Inventory of homes for sale continues to be low and it has helped sustain prices through the lack of activity created by the economy closure. Year-to-date closed sales price in the resale (used homes) market are up 1.6% from last year and new construction sales prices are up 12.7%. Total sales volume is down only 3.9% for the year, which is remarkable for an economy that was grounded to a halt.
Realtors and banks and all of the people involved with housing have had to pivot quickly, just like most industries, and it appears they have weathered the storm well so far.
Housing and consumer purchasing are probably the only thing left that can save this economy from a free fall in the short term.
(Guy Speckman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or working on his paper mache skills)