Things just get curiouser and curiouser.
But this isn’t Alice describing Wonderland. It’s Jefferson City, where our legislators were called into special session three and a half weeks ago essentially for one big thing, to pass a major economic development package.
They can’t get that done and can’t bring themselves to just call it a day.
They’ve been all but adjourned for more than a week, but on Thursday came word that a key committee will meet next week and that the full House will vote on the measure. At that point we’ll be a month into a special session that was supposed to take several days – and we’ll be a month shy of the date when legislators legally have to adjourn for real.
It’s not clear if all of the back-stage dickering – we are only left to assume at least that much is going on – will bridge the gaps between House and Senate, between one group of senators and another. How far we are from warm July, when the Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders each said a deal was all but done and raced to take credit. Now Gov. Nixon says legislators need to act or leave, though he does say the House-Senate differences can be resolved.
For sure, the deal comes with a steep price and modest benefit for Kansas City. The St. Louis area stands to benefit from state aid for the “aerotropolis” plan, that is, trying to route a lot of China-to-the-Midwest trade through the airport there. Kansas City would stand to benefit at least some from changes that might keep Kansas from poaching every last private job on the Missouri side of the metro. We’ll see.
And some of the majority Republicans in the Senate don’t want even that much, saying the aerotropolis plan is just not an appropriate thing for government to do. Some outside the General Assembly have sharply questioned the soundness of that plan generally.
The interesting part is that so many business interests across the state have lined up to support this package, because of aerotropolis or the streamlining of other state programs or incentives for life sciences or other items. And yet 197 legislators cannot collectively say either “forget it” or “yes.” This loomed as legislators wrapped up their regular session in May, and now it’s back. At some point, we need a decision.