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Politically Speaking: Schmitt Discusses Municipal Courts -- And His Political Ambitions

Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt.
File photo | Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

The Politically Speaking podcast team this week welcomed back state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale.  He was the podcast’s first political guest back in June 2013.

Now, he’s ending his second term in the state Senate and already has launched a bid for state treasurer in 2016.

Schmitt also has the distinction of being the Missouri General Assembly’s tallest member.

A graduate of DeSmet High School and Truman State, Schmitt was a key player in the General Assembly’s passage this spring of a tax-cut package, enacted over Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto, which goes into effect in 2017.

More recently, Schmitt assisted state Rep. Rick Stream’s bid for St. Louis County executive.

Credit Rebecca Smith, St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, joins St. Louis Public Radio reporters Jo Mannies and Chris McDaniel for Politically Speaking.

Schmitt’s major observations included:

  • Although Stream narrowly lost by just under 1,800 voters, Schmitt said, “I’m proud of the race he ran.’’ About 15,000 county votes went to third-party and write-in candidates. Schmitt believes the 3,700 people who cast write-in votes, rather than voting for Stream, may have been crucial to Democrat Steve Stenger’s victory.
  • Schmitt still hopes to see the General Assembly pass more tax cuts, which he calls “a good policy to pursue.” He is pleased with the passage of Amendment 10, which limits the governor’s power to trim budgets approved by legislators.
  • This coming session, Schmitt plans to press for curbs on local municipalities who use speeding tickets and court fines to bolster their budgets. “A lot of municipal courts are being used as revenue generation.” He grew up in north St. Louis County, and calls the Ferguson unrest “incredibly sad.”  Schmitt says both parties need to show leadership to address the racial and economic tensions.
  • He's not opposed to small municipalities -- noting that Glendale is one of them -- but says such communities should be serving the best interests of their residents and not be simply "revenue machines'' to exist solely to raise money to pay for city operations and employees. In some cases, the question should be: "Is this the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars?"
  • He believes the school-transfer issue may come up again in the next legislative session and calls for more leadership from Nixon. Schmitt noted that parts of Ferguson are within the Normandy School District, one of those affected by the school-transfer issue.
  • He calls Medicaid expansion "very unlikely."

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter@jmannies

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter@jrosenbaum

Follow Eric Schmitt on Twitter: @Eric_Schmitt

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.