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Former legislator Baker launches Democratic bid for Missouri treasurer

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Former state Rep. Judy Baker, a Democrat from Columbia, Mo., announced her 2016 bid for state treasurer with support from close to 50 current or former legislators around the state. Another Democrat, former federal official Pat Contreras of Kansas City, announced his bid last year.

On the GOP side, state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, also has been running for Missouri treasurer for more than a year – accumulating at least $1.9 million in the bank, according to his latest campaign-finance report.

The Missouri state treasurer handles the money that the state collects from various sources and invests the money until it is needed for state operations. The treasurer also oversees several investment programs for small businesses and families seeking to save for college.

Since leaving the General Assembly, Baker has had two unsuccessful runs for higher office: for Congress in 2008, when she lost to Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer, and for lieutenant governor in 2012, when she lost in the Democratic primary.

In between those bids, Baker served as the Midwest regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In the Missouri House, Baker served on the state budget committee – which she says gave her a lot of insight into how Missouri government spends money.

"We need to make change in Missouri. We need to invest Missouri's money in Missouri's people. For too long, families have struggled to get ahead because of lack of access to resources to buy homes, start businesses, or secure a post-secondary education,” she said in Monday’s announcement. “Now more than ever we need leaders who will make every tax dollar go further and do more.”

Among other things, she’s proposing to issue “an annual report card’’ so the public can see how the state invests its money.

“By focusing on transparency and economic development, we will make Missouri taxpayers a priority again,” she said. “An annual report card will make state government accountable to taxpayers while leveraging innovative financial incentives will encourage economic development in our state’s lagging economy…”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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