The Governor has called a special session to begin today for the purpose of creating 500-900 jobs in Southeast Missouri. While the cause itself is noble and laudable, the fact government is doing it is not. The fact government is having to do it shows that government is the problem not the solution. If that were not the case, government wouldn’t have to be trying fix something they broke.
Let’s take a 30,000 foot level look at what the Governor is asking the legislature to do this week.
The Governor is asking the legislature to give the Public Service Commission (PSC) the authority to approve a discounted utility rate to a steel mill from Ameren-Missouri. The result will be lower rates for the steel mill so that it can open and create the aforementioned jobs.
Sounds good until you discover that it will result in INCREASED RATES FOR ALL THE OTHER AMEREN-MISSOURI RATE PAYERS TO PAY FOR IT! Government action at its finest.
There are so many things wrong with the way the Governor has approached this “solution” not the least of which it represents the type of crony capitalism that he claimed he would change if he were to become Governor. Rather than change the way Jefferson City works, he’s digging in and making it worse in this area.
His proposed solution would give the PSC an economic development roll which they have never had and should never have. In fact, the PSC should not exist because we should be a deregulated utility state where consumers have competition for their electrical and gas needs. If that were the case here in Missouri, this special session would not be necessary at all!
But that’s not going to happen anytime soon in Missouri. So what should the legislature do in this special session about these jobs?
Glad you asked!
Here are some things the legislature should and should not do to have a successful special session, avoid crony capitalism and achieve the stated objective:
1) The legislature should not give the PSC the authority the Governor has requested. They are unelected and do not answer to the people. This powerful commission should not be given more power than they already yield and especially in the economic development area.
2) The legislature should make sure that what ever means are taken to assist in getting government out of the way that it does not create more problems such as shifting the burden of the lower rates to the other rate payers. Under the public utility model Missouri operates under, you can’t rob (reduced rate) Peter (Ameren) to pay Paul (mill) without Peter having to go to Andrew (Ameren rate payers) to get the money that was stolen. The Legislature could pass a law that says Ameren would have to absorb whatever the lower rate was but that would result in a lawsuit and it would be one of the most glaring examples of crony capitalism ever!
3) The legislature should pass a bill that provides the ability for Ameren and the mill to negotiate a rate that works for both, that doesn’t end up passing along to rate payers the “difference” between what the mill should be paying and the negotiated rate and set a course for the future that ends with deregulation so that Missourians have competition in their energy companies.