Mayor Francis Slay is fuming over the results of the just-concluded special session.
"Goodbye state legislators. Thanks for (almost) nothing," the mayor tweeted this afternoon, a day after the state Senate adjourned without taking action on a large economic development package and a measure that would end more than 150 years of state oversight of the St. Louis police department.
The economic development measure included a series of incentives to help grow a hub for Chinese cargo around Lambert Airport. But its size was whittled down significantly, and still ran into a buzz saw of opposition by a group of senators who wanted to put sunsets on popular tax credit programs.
"We need responsible legislators who are not playing politics and are going to Jeff City to get stuff done," Slay said following a midday press conference on federal funding for Amtrak. "There is nothing that a mayor or a governor for that matter can do to address what I think are relatively few legislators that are controlling the whole agenda in Jeff City." He said he's not expecting the situation to be better next session in the midst of an election year.
Slay also called it an insult that legislation returning oversight of the St. Louis police department back to city officials got held hostage in the economic development debate, despite what he said were assurances that it wouldn't happen. The mayor says he's "giving up" on the legislative route, and will instead back a ballot measure financed by billionaire libertarian Rex Sinquefield.
"I want to see a vote, and if the Legislature doesn't want to deal with it, and they've already demonstrated over the past five years they don't want to deal with it, we'll submit it to the voters of the state of Missouri," Slay said.
Slay's move puts him at odds with the St. Louis Police Officer's Association. The union was behind the legislative effort because it included language that protected their benefits. Association officials say Sinquefield's proposal lacks those protections and fails to provide for an orderly transition to a city-run department.