Jo Mannies

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter.  She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

For the first time in memory, the Missouri House skipped its traditional end-of-session celebratory paper toss at 6 p.m. Friday.

And outgoing House Speaker Todd Richardson quoted from Shakespeare’s great tragedy, “Macbeth.”

Such were some of this session’s significant differences, large and small, from its predecessors.

(Updated Friday, May 18, to reflect change in corporate tax rate)

The Missouri General Assembly has approved significant cuts in income-tax rates for individuals and is expected to do the same for businesses before it adjourns Friday.

But the exact impact on the state’s finances is not quite clear.

State Rep. Elijah Haahr, a Republican from Springfield, is chief sponsor of the bill that drops the individual income-tax rate from 5.9 percent to 5.1 percent over several years. The first rate cut goes into effect next year.

The Missouri House has approved a massive tax bill that, among other things, trims the state’s historic tax credit program, and bars any general-revenue spending for sports stadiums.

The bill approved Wednesday also would punish developers who provide false information to obtain state tax credits by barring them from the state aid for 10 years.

And it would require homeowners who rent out rooms under such programs as Airbnb to pay the local tourism taxes already assessed on hotels.

The Missouri House has overwhelmingly approved a wide-ranging criminal justice bill that would revamp the state’s system.

Among other things, the measure ends the statute of limitations for prosecuting sex crimes when the victim is under the age of 19.

The House also has passed a different bill, which includes a provision that would allow the lieutenant governor to step in and appoint members of boards and commissions if the governor fails to make those appointments within six months after the posts become vacant.

Missouri Budget Director Dan Haug says the state’s general-revenue income is expected to be enough to balance the budget for the current fiscal year.

That good news, though, is tempered by the impact of federal and state tax cuts that just began going into effect in January. Haug says those cuts will trim the state’s income by $109 million for the first six months of 2018, or $218 million for the entire calendar year.

“I think costs are generally under control,” the budget director said in an interview. “Revenues are right now on track where we thought they would be.”

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