Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is showing right off the bat that he’s eager to break with tradition. He’s nixing the traditional inaugural parade – featuring high school bands and convertibles – that in the past has snaked through Jefferson City before the swearing-in ceremony, set for Jan. 9 at noon.
Instead, a spokesman told reporters Thursday that Greitens plans to review a formation of National Guard troops on the grounds of the state Capitol.
Spokesman Austin Chambers said the inaugural schedule – which will begin with an ecumenical religious service – was getting too crowded. So the parade was scrapped.
Also scrapped were rumored plans to move the ceremony inside, and possibly to Columbia. “There were a lot of things considered,’’ Chambers said. “What matters is what we’re doing.”
Greitens, a former Navy SEAL and St. Louis County native, is adding a ceremony honoring military veterans. And he hopes to add some glamour to the inaugural ball by bringing in a celebrity singer with Missouri roots. So far, the entertainer’s identity remains secret.
Greitens also will break with tradition by not outlining his budget priorities in his first State of the State address, set for Jan. 17. His proposed budget won’t come out until February.
Instead, the address – generally an annual unveiling of a governor’s spending proposals – will be devoted to Greitens’ other legislative priorities, Chambers said.
“The governor’s priorities for this first session are jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform,” his spokesman said. “Under jobs, that’s where labor falls. We’re going to sign ‘right to work’ and we’re going to have other general regulatory reform.”
Seeks to curb state tax credits, help vets
Greitens is confident that fellow Republicans who control the state House and Senate will help him advance his agenda.
Under “right to work,” strongly opposed by labor and long sought by the GOP, unions and businesses will be barred from requiring all workers in a bargaining unit to pay dues or fees. Missouri is among several states that are expected to put such a law into effect early this year.
As part of his jobs agenda, Greitens plans to focus on helping military veterans find work as part of his quest to make Missouri "the best state for veterans."
Greitens also will seek to change the state’s approach to business in other ways.
Like the state’s last two governors, Greitens wants to curb or do away with the state’s tax credit programs, which now cost the state an estimated $600 million a year in revenue.
“He’s committed to ending these special-interest giveaways,’’ Chambers said. The spokesman noted that Greitens already has come out strongly against proposals to issue tax breaks to encourage the construction of a professional soccer stadium in the St. Louis area.
But in exchange, Greitens hopes to help business in other ways. He plans to seek “significant tort reform,’’ Chambers said, aimed at imposing limits on lawsuits and the awarding of damages.
Seeks to curb lobbyists and advance term limits
When it comes to government ethics, Greitens wants to propose a total ban on gifts from lobbyists and stiff restrictions on when legislators can become lobbyists.
Under Greitens’ proposal, a lawmaker would be barred from being a lobbyist until they’ve been out of office the same number of years that they were in office. A member of the Missouri House for eight years, for example, would have to wait eight years before they could become a lobbyist.
Greitens also wants to ask Missouri voters to change the state constitution so that all statewide officials are covered by term limits. Currently, only the governor and the state treasurer are limited to two terms. Outgoing Gov. Jay Nixon served four terms as Missouri attorney general, and outgoing Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder served three terms in his post.
Next week, Greitens plans to announce nominees to various posts, including a new state director of public safety, the director of the state Office of Administration and – a new post – a state “chief operations officer.”
The COO, said Chambers, will help Greitens “reform government.”
Greitens already has chosen the person who, like the governor-elect, is an outsider, Chambers said.
Moving soon into Governor's Mansion
Greitens and his family will be moving into the Governor's Mansion, but they plan to wait until after the inauguration. Nixon and his family already have begun moving out; the outgoing governor and his wife have purchased a new home in University City.