In February, Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (R) gave the Monarch Fire District a “C,” in part for its early retirement incentives package that violated the State Constitution. Spokesman for the Auditor’s office, Spence Jackson, says their recommendations there have yet to be implemented.
“They told us that that’s not something that they’re going to have to deal with again for another couple of years," Jackson said. "But they did indicate that they would apply more due diligence with how future retirement incentives are handled, and we’re pleased with that.”
At stake are ballot questions that would raise Missouri’s cigarette tax, raise the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour, and cap interest rates on payday loans. The fate of all three may turn on whether the State Auditor has the authority to estimate the financial impact of citizens’ petition initiatives. Attorney Ronald Holliger argued that the High Court should uphold a lower court ruling supporting the State Auditor’s authority.
“(We contacted) four statewide offices, 20 other departments/agencies, the House and Senate," Otto said. "Out of those 24 places that we contacted we received comments from 16, and all 16 said ‘no costs associated with this measure.’”
A Missouri judge has struck down the State Auditor's authority to prepare financial estimates for ballot initiatives.
The ruling by Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem comes in a challenge to a proposed tobacco tax initiative for which supporters are not gathering signatures. But attorneys who specialize in initiative petitions say the ruling ultimately could affect other initiatives.