July 17, 2012

What Is Show-Me Sunshine?

Welcome! Show-Me Sunshine, a collaborative project of the Show-Me Institute, is a government document library which the Institute has amassed over the years not only for our own research, but also for the public’s benefit. Made possible by our donors, the documents herein offer readers a sneak peek into how our government works, how it oftentimes does not work, and, sometimes, how our government can work better. Every document tells a story, and while we have certainly told many of them, we have not told all of them.

This is your government. These are your documents. Please peruse them, search them, and scrutinize them. As former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” We hope Show-Me Sunshine assists those purposes.

June 17, 2015

Minimum Wage Bills Under Consideration

The debate over increasing the minimum wage has been a hot topic recently. Below are the two minimum wage bills under consideration by the Kansas City City Council and the Saint Louis City Council.

Also below is a bill recently passed by the state legislature that would prohibit political subdivisions (cities, counties, and such) from raising the minimum wage above that set by state or federal law.

February 24, 2015

Three Labor Agreements Held By Metro

Below are three labor agreements held by the Bi-State Development Agency of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District (Metro).

One is an agreement with ATU Division 788 representing van operators for Call-A-Ride. The term of the agreement is February 1, 2013 through January 31, 2017.

Another is an agreement with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Locals 2 and 309 representing employees classified as sign worker, facilities electrician, signal electrician Metrolink, and traction power electrician Metrolink. The term of the agreement is March 1, 2013, through February 28, 2018.

The final agreement is with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Division 788 representing all the employees of the agency except Line and Power Sections, watchmen, office and clerical employees, and supervisory employees. The term of agreement was October 1, 2005, through June 30, 2009.

April 7, 2014

2013 Missouri Public School District Collective Bargaining Agreements

In the 2007, the Missouri Supreme Court overruled 60 years of case law and determined that teachers have the right to organize and collectively bargain. We at the Show-Me Institute wanted to determine how many districts have entered into collective bargaining agreements (CBA), so we requested CBAs from every district with more than 1,000 students. About 1/5 of the districts we contacted had a formal CBA. In the interest of transparency, we have now posted those agreements online.

February 10, 2014

Missouri Privatization Documents

The Show-Me Institute has released a comprehensive project about privatization efforts in Missouri. This project documents the wide variety of ways in which counties, cities, and towns can engage the private sector to provide many public services. We also discuss the many public service areas where privatization is appropriate and potentially beneficial, along with the areas it is not. The study provides city officials, administrators, and interested citizens with examples of where, how, and why privatization can be expanded in their communities. The documents made available here are part of that effort.

Government privatization refers to the practice of providing what are commonly considered public services via the private sector. In these cases, the public service is provided either directly by a private firm (or multiple private firms), or indirectly through private firm management of government-owned operations (i.e., outsourcing). There are numerous ways private management of government operations can be arranged. Privatization, when done properly, can increase efficiency and expertise, provide additional services to the public, and decrease costs for taxpayers.

In 2003, the Missouri Legislature created a subcommittee on Competition and Privatization that issued a final report in December 2004. The subcommittee’s work was promising, and its goals were inspiring. Unfortunately, the final results of the project were ultimately disappointing and few of its recommendations were implemented. However, there are valuable parts to the report that document how Missouri has used private entities for many information technology (IT), data entry, and other service-related state government needs. For the first time, that report is available online at Showmesunshine.org.

We also have included several examples of contracts and proposal requests between local governments and private sector partners. If there are local officials in Missouri who wish to look further into privatization but do not know the legal requirements, we hope that these examples of existing contracts and proposals can be of assistance. These contracts include examples from the City of Saint Louis, Kansas City, Cameron, Jackson County, Chillicothe, and Wentzville.

Other documents we have made available online here include:

  • A 2007 memorandum from the City of Florissant documenting how it used the funds from the 2002 sale of its municipal water utility.
  • A 2004 memorandum from Milwaukee County, Wis., detailing that county’s privatization efforts from 1995 to 2004.
  • A 2004 report from Stephen Witte with the Missouri Legislative Academy on the issues regarding toll roads in Missouri.
  • A 1996 report from the Missouri Council on Efficient Operations discussing various ways to make state government more effective.

The Show-Me Institute’s privatization project is dedicated to expanding the use of privatization in Missouri state and local governments. That effort is ongoing. Missourians can use this information to monitor state government and their local governments as a way to encourage privatization efforts when possible. We also hope the documents listed here will assist local government officials who may be considering privatization efforts. Being active in government and monitoring its services can be difficult. This tool makes it a little easier.

Contracts and proposal requests between local governments and private sector partners:

September 24, 2012

Searchable: Government Lobbying Contracts

Most citizens have at least a cursory familiarity with the role of lobbying in the political process. Lobbying refers to actions that individuals, groups, and special interests undertake for the purpose of influencing public officials. Typically, lobbying occurs on behalf of private parties. However, a far more concerning form of lobbying — and one with which far fewer citizens are familiar — is lobbying that occurs on behalf of public institutions, which taxpayer dollars fund.

Taxpayer-funded lobbying — often referred to as intergovernmental lobbying — is the process of one governmental entity lobbying another. The entities that engage in this brand of lobbying include school districts, universities, police departments, fire protection districts, cities, counties, and various other agencies at every level of government that — in turn — lobby each other, state governments, and the federal government. In essence, taxpayer-funded lobbying implies that government — quite literally — lobbies itself.

According to Americans for Prosperity, this form of lobbying consumes up to $1 trillion of the tax revenue collected in this country each year. In consideration of tight budgets across the state of Missouri, expenditures such as these warrant particular scrutiny and a careful evaluation of the effects and legitimacy of intergovernmental lobbying.

There are many other concerns with taxpayer-funded lobbying. The largest is simply the unseemliness of its role in the constant expansion of the role of government at every level in all of our lives.

The Show-Me Institute’s Missouri government lobbying project is dedicated to bringing some sunlight into the practice. We have attempted to collect every current lobbying contract between a government institution and a private lobbying firm in Missouri. That effort is ongoing. It is our hope that interested Missourians will use this information to more effectively monitor their own local governments. Staying vigilant in regards to the activities of your government is difficult. We hope this tool makes it a little easier.

REPORT: “Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying: Government Lobbying Government,” by David Stokes and Abhi Sivasailam
RELATED COMMENTARY: “Missouri’s Taxpayers Lobbying To Pay More Taxes?” by Mary Kate Hopkins

If the embed does render properly in your browser, you can also search these documents here.

September 10, 2012

Searchable: Teacher Collective Bargaining Agreements in Missouri’s Public Schools

In 2011, the Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of American Federation of Teachers v. Ledbetter. The case is pending a decision as of July 12, 2012. At issue is whether a public school district has a legal “duty” to collectively bargain in “good faith” with a teachers’ union. Before addressing the specifics, some historical context is needed.

In 1947, the Missouri Supreme Court, in City of Springfield v. Clouse, held that the city of Springfield, Mo., could not collectively bargain employment contracts with public employee unions. The reason was twofold. First, the Missouri Constitution’s clause guaranteeing the right to collectively bargain did not apply to public employees. Second, public entities such as cities act on behalf of the general public and therefore, only elected legislators, as the people’s representatives, may set the terms of employment for public employees. Non-elected public officers lacked the requisite authority to collectively bargain with labor unions.

Fast forward to 2007. In Independence-NEA v. Independence School District, the Missouri Supreme Court partially overruled Clouse and held that the Missouri Constitution’s collective bargaining clause extended to public school teachers. The court rested its opinion in large part on the modern trend recognizing a legislature’s power to delegate its decision-making authority to administrative agencies. Because a legislature “may” delegate its power to negotiate and agree to the terms of public employment, the constitution’s collective bargaining guarantee was held to extend to all public employees, including teachers.

If due respect is to be paid to the legislature, then the following question naturally arises: Did the Missouri General Assembly in fact delegate this authority to public school districts? And how can one reconcile the majority’s broad recognition of the power to delegate with its stern rejection of the legislature’s discretionary choice to exclude public school teachers from its grant of collective bargaining rights?

Specifically, the Missouri General Assembly enacted the Public Sector Labor Law in 1965. The Act empowers certain public employees to join labor organizations for the purpose of negotiating terms of employment. But the legislature expressly excluded school teachers from its provisions. By exercising its power to delegate, the legislature “selectively” delegated its powers by withholding statutory collective bargaining rights from teachers. One may ask whether the power to delegate implies the power to withhold.

For now, the law regarding a school district’s legal obligation to collectively bargain is in flux. The trial court in Ledbetter held that school districts had no duty to bargain. The court in Independence clearly supported the constitutional right for teachers to collectively bargain, but further held that school districts are under no obligation to agree to contractual terms that the teachers’ bargaining agent proposes. If the Supreme Court in Ledbetter adds a good faith requirement, school districts will suffer a diminished right, a right recognized in Independence, to reject union proposals.

In light of the current state of flux, and the importance of this issue for Missouri taxpayers and schools, the Show-Me Institute has begun gathering and reporting collective bargaining agreements and related agreements between school districts and certified staff governing the terms of employment for teachers.

We sent letters to the largest 100 districts in Missouri requesting all such agreements. Agreements include formal collective bargaining agreements and other agreements such as closure documents. The common denominator, however, is the written expression of the terms of employment between a district and its certified teaching staff.

The responses we received are searchable below. Moreover by simply double-clicking on a document the entire document is viewable. We welcome your feedback.

July 12, 2012

Missouri Tax Credit Estimates FY 2012 and FY 2013

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April 2, 2012

Department of Economic Development Responsive Documents: Norwood Hills Country Club

Continue reading "Department of Economic Development Responsive Documents: Norwood Hills Country Club" »

January 24, 2012

Hazelwood Responsive Documents: Emerald Automotive

Continue reading "Hazelwood Responsive Documents: Emerald Automotive" »

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