Nicole Galloway | St. Louis Public Radio

Nicole Galloway

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivers his second State of the State address on January 15.
Marta Payne | Special to St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 with comment from legislators 

Gov. Mike Parson highlighted public safety, behavioral health services, education and job training as priorities in Missouri’s $30 billion spending plan for the budget cycle that starts July 1. 

He spoke about these programs in his annual State of the State address Wednesday — and also touted many of what he considers successes of his first 18 months in office.

“The state of our state is strong, and by working together, we will be even better prepared for the future,” Parson said. 

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger walks out of federal court after pleading guilty to federal charges of bribery, mail fraud and theft of honest services.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When historians look back at Missouri politics in 2019, they may get whiplash from all the twists, turns, scandals and controversies.

These past 12 months brought seismic change to the St. Louis region, especially with the sudden collapse of St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s administration and a nearly six-year effort to merge the city and county. In Jefferson City, Gov. Mike Parson dealt with a host of difficult policy issues — including economic development, Medicaid and abortion.

December 11, 2019 Nicole Galloway
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has the highest sales tax rates in the state of Missouri. Some parts of the city see rates as high as 11.679%. But the revenue doesn’t all go to the government. The areas with the highest tax rates may be as small as a few blocks — with extra taxes incurred by special taxing districts that operate largely without oversight from City Hall.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway took on the city’s poor oversight of these districts in an audit last month. And, on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, she said she’s referred one of them to law enforcement for investigation.   

Missouri state auditor Nicole Galloway presents an audit's findings of the city of St. Louis' local taxing districts. 11/21/19
File photo | Andrea Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

A state audit gave the city of St. Louis poor performance reviews in regard to its handling of 138 special tax districts. 

State Auditor Nicole Galloway discussed the findings Thursday in St. Louis and said the city needs to change its procedures to ensure responsible spending of tax dollars. 

“When these districts operate unchecked, taxpayers do not have assurance their money is being used efficiently, effectively and for the benefit of the public in the community,” Galloway said. “And that's just what we found: rampant use of local taxing districts throughout the city.”

Republican Lee Ann Pitman, left, and Democrat Trish Gunby, right, are running to represent Missouri's 99th House District.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the special state House elections, Missouri’s political watchers are focused on a west St. Louis County race between Republican Lee Ann Pitman and Democrat Trish Gunby.

While the outcome of the Pitman-Gunby race won’t make much of a difference in how the Missouri House operates, it could provide a glimpse into St. Louis County’s political future — and how the area may respond to the Republican and Democratic statewide contenders.

St. Louis County Council Chairwoman Lisa Clancy.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is expected to take up a proposal to ban the use of self-deleting text message apps for government business.

Councilwoman Lisa Clancy, D-Maplewood, asked staff last week to draft legislation that prohibits the use of self-deleting text apps when communicating about county business. She said she plans to introduce the policy at a county council meeting over the next several weeks. 

By September 2019, thousands of Missourians are still waiting to receive their tax refunds.
401(K) 2012 Flickr

Taxes were due roughly five months ago, but thousands of Missourians are still waiting to get their state refunds. 

According to the Missouri Department of Revenue, 9,671 tax returns have been processed and are pending. That amounts to $20 million that the department has yet to pay out. There are an additional 12,791 tax returns in manual review and just over 7,000 that may be “intercepted by another state agency” for debt payments or other reasons. 

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson at a press conference on government restructuring on Aug. 28, 2019.
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson reiterated Wednesday there will be no special legislative session on gun violence. 

Parson called a special session to resolve a car sales tax issue to run concurrently with the state’s annual veto session. It’s set to begin on Sept. 9 and will cost taxpayers an estimated $16,000. 

State Auditor Nicole Galloway speaks at the Truman Dinner on August 17, 2019.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

As Jean Peters Baker spoke to a packed room at the Missouri Democratic Party’s Truman Dinner last weekend, she acknowledged the obvious: The past few years have been bruising for a party that used to dominate state politics.

Republicans up and down the ballot generally prevailed in the past three election cycles — leaving Democrats on the outside looking in when it comes to policy and leadership. But Baker, chairwoman of the Missouri Democratic Party, said this isn’t a time to sulk. Instead, Democrats should use the 2020 election cycle as a prime opportunity for a comeback.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivers his first State of the State address at the Missouri State Capitol building Wednesday afternoon. Jan. 16, 2019
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Mike Parson is calling a special session next month to clear up an issue regarding sales tax bills on new cars. 

In June, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in Kehlenbrink v. Director of Revenue that the sale proceeds of only one used vehicle can be applied as a credit on a new car. The Department of Revenue was allowing couples to turn in more than one used vehicle to bring down the sales tax on a new model. 

State Auditor Nicole Galloway speaks at the Truman Dinner on August 17, 2019.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

State Auditor Nicole Galloway is promising to take the fight to Gov. Mike Parson in next year’s gubernatorial contest, contending that Missouri Democrats are better equipped to solve state problems than the GOP.

Galloway’s speech at the Missouri Democratic Party’s Truman Dinner on Saturday in St. Louis was her first major address since announcing her bid for governor Monday. Her party is trying to bounce back after three dismal election cycles in a row.

Gov. Mike Parson addresses a crowd of supporters at the Governor's Ham Breakfast on Aug. 15, 2019
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s two likely nominees for the 2020 governor’s race have similar stances on gun reform measures needed in the state, but are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to access to abortion. 

Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway and Republican Gov. Mike Parson both spoke with members of the press at the annual Governor’s Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia on Thursday. 

Parson has not officially entered the race yet, but Galloway, who announced her candidacy Monday, was critical of the incumbent’s leadership. 

Nicole Galloway poses for a portrait at St. Louis Public Radio. March, 22, 2018
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

State Auditor Nicole Galloway officially launched her 2020 gubernatorial bid on Monday morning, emphasizing her record as Missouri’s lone Democratic statewide official and criticizing how a GOP-controlled government has operated.

While Galloway will likely have little competition capturing the Democratic nomination for governor, in the general election, she will be dealing with an electorate that leans toward the GOP and the incumbent's financial advantage.

Tens of thousands of Missourians are still waiting to receive their state tax refunds this year. 

And some are saying this year’s wait is particularly bad.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway said this has been an issue for years, under both Republican and Democratic governors. Despite significant improvements in the timeliness of refunds last year, Galloway said problems persist and little has been done to remedy the situation.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The De Soto School District can improve its tracking of employee compensation, contracts, attendance reporting and handling of lunch and athletic money, according to a state review of the school system’s accounting.

The Missouri state auditor released an audit of De Soto schools Wednesday evening. The report lists 12 findings, including some that require immediate attention, earning the district a rating of “fair.” State audits earn one of four rankings, from excellent, to good, fair or poor.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway announces her office will audit the government of St. Louis County , the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and the St. Louis County Port Authority. May 15, 2019
File photo | Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:23 p.m., May 15, with statement from St. Louis Economic Development Chariman Karlos Ramirez — Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway announced Wednesday that her office will accept the St.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, right, slammed Carpenter for "mismanagement" -- and criticized her response to the audit.
File Photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council wants state Auditor Nicole Galloway to look into county government in the wake of Steve Stenger’s guilty plea on federal corruption charges.

That move came as St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced that the county is getting back to the negotiating table with the owners of Northwest Plaza.

Missouri Department of Revenue officials may have violated the law when they adjusted the state’s income tax withholding tables once again earlier this year, according to a report from state Auditor Nicole Galloway.

The January adjustment came after two prior adjustments in response to the federal tax cuts that took effect last year.

Nicole Galloway poses for a portrait at St. Louis Public Radio. March, 22, 2018
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It appears to be up to Missouri’s last remaining statewide Democrat – Auditor Nicole Galloway – to investigate the validity of allegations of campaign violations made against outgoing state Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Galloway said Friday that she’ll comply with the request of Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican who initially had been charged with examining a formal complaint filed against Hawley.

The complaint alleges Hawley, also a Republican, used public money to support his Senate bid against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. Hawley defeated McCaskill and will take office in January.

Rep. Clem Smith, D-Velda Village Hills
File photo | Tim Bommel I House Communications

State Rep. Clem Smith was willing to step away from Missouri politics after being barred from running again for the House due to term limits.

In one of his final speeches, Smith said he was “going to ride out into the sunset like Shane and get an AARP card so I can get discounts at Best Western or something.” But the four-term state lawmaker from St. Louis County kept getting encouragement to stay involved, which is one of the reasons he ran for and won the vice chairmanship of the Missouri Democratic Party last weekend.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

State Auditor Nicole Galloway defeated Republican Saundra McDowell to be the only Democrat holding a statewide office.

“To me what this election says is that folks believe in accountability,” Galloway said after her victory Tuesday. “They believe that Jefferson City needs someone that will call the balls and strikes and call out corruption when it happens and hold those accountable for their actions.”

Saundra McDowell, Republican nominee for Missouri auditor  2018
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri's GOP state auditor nominee Saundra McDowell joins the Politically Speaking podcast to talk about her campaign for the statewide office.

McDowell is squaring off against incumbent Democrat Nicole Galloway, who was appointed to her post after Tom Schweich’s death in 2015. You can listen to Galloway’s appearance on the show here.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

State Auditor Nicole Galloway returns to the Politically Speaking podcast to talk about her quest for a full, four-year term in office.

The Democratic official was appointed to her post in 2015 after the suicide of Tom Schweich. She’s squaring off against Republican Saundra McDowell in the Nov. 6 election. McDowell’s episode of Politically Speaking will be posted on Wednesday afternoon.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway announces the findings of an audit of the state's sex offender registry on Oct. 1, 2018. Her review found nearly 8 percent of the offenders required to register were not compliant.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m. with comments from the St. Louis Police Department — Police in Missouri do not know the whereabouts of nearly 1,200 sex offenders who are required by law to register with law enforcement — or nearly 8 percent of the total population who are supposed to be tracked.

An audit released Monday by state Auditor Nicole Galloway found that nearly 800 of those individuals have committed the most serious crimes, such as rape or child molestation in the first degree.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, left, and her Republican challenger Saundra McDowell participated in a debate in 2018.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s state auditor candidates tangled Friday over the role of the job in their first — and possibly only — joint appearance.

They also differed over the fate of a disputed ballot measure called Clean Missouri.

 

Ferguson courthouse
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated August 13 at 2 p.m. with comments from the city and auditor — A new report from state Auditor Nicole Galloway finds the city of Ferguson has made important changes to its municipal court.

But the audit released Monday also found city officials still have not taken action to secure and repair damaged court documents.

According to Washington University's Center for Social Development's latest study, predominantly black residents and low-income communities in the region face barriers in casting their ballots.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Four Republicans are set to face off in the Aug. 7 primary for Missouri auditor, hoping to unseat Democrat Nicole Galloway in November. 

The four contenders are Paul Curtman of Pacific, Saundra McDowell of Jefferson City, Kevin Roach of Ballwin, and David Wasinger of St. Louis County.

Union members gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall on Aug. 8, 2017, to notarize and turn in petitions to force a statewide vote over Missouri’s right-to-work law.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This week’s election edition of Politically Speaking looks into the referendum over Missouri’s right-to-work law — and the GOP primary for state auditor.

Besides the U.S. Senate contest, the right-to-work fight and GOP auditor race will be on every Missouri primary ballot on Aug. 7. And both matters could have long-term ramifications for the state’s politics.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway says Missouri appears to be wasting millions of dollars through misuse of its food assistance program.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, was formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. It helps low-income Missourians get food at grocery stores by using a state-funded electronic card.

Hazelwood parents read through an audit of the school district's finances done by Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway during a community meeting to release the results of the report Wednesday, May 2, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Lax handling of cash created an environment that allowed a former Hazelwood high school principal to embezzle thousands of dollars, according to a state audit of the school district. It also found the district took in $95,000 more in state funding than it should have.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway released the results of a year-long review of the north St. Louis County school district’s finances Wednesday evening. A few dozen parents attended a presentation by Galloway in the gymnasium of Central High School.

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