On this week’s edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Sue Allen to the show for the first time. (The show’s pre-eminent host, St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel, is taking it easy after battling an illness.)
The Town and Country Republican is a physical therapist who was involved in state policy and politics before she was elected to the Missouri House in 2008. Since then, she’s become a key player in the state budget process — specifically as the chairwoman of an appropriations committee overseeing health, mental health and social services.
Allen also led several committees that examined the structure of St. Louis County government — including taking a look at the county's sales tax distribution. That system is once again at the policy forefront because of a lawsuit from the city of Chesterfield to scuttle the distribution system altogether.
Allen was recently elected to her fourth term in the Missouri House without serious opposition. She will have to leave the General Assembly’s lower chamber in 2017 due to term limits.
During the show, Allen said:
- Before she was in elected to office, she spent time in the mid-2000s lobbying against certain cuts to the Medicaid program. She added she was encouraged to run for a vacant state House seat by top St. Louis County Republicans, such as former Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons.
- It's unlikely that the legislature will expand Medicaid under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act. She says Republican lawmakers are, among other things, concerned about how to pay for the expansion once the state has to pay for a percentage of funding.
- It will be difficult to find legislative consensus to change St. Louis County's sales tax distribution system.
- She decided not to run for the 24th Senate District seat this year because she felt she had more to do in the Missouri House. Allen has become a go-to lawmaker when it comes to the state budget and health care.
- She initially supported term limits back in the 1990s. But she says they've transferred too much power from lawmakers to lobbyists and state employees. Since term limits are now in the constitution, a statewide vote would be required to repeal or change them.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum