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Senators reject pay increases, accuse Gov. Greitens of using intimidation tactics

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – What began as a debate over a resolution that would give lawmakers and state officials a pay raise quickly became a heated and tense affair as senators called on Gov. Eric Greitens to apologize for his alleged use of “strong-armed tactics”.

The resolution in question was HCR 4, which concerns pay raises recommended by a citizens’ commission. The House voted 154-5 last week to reject the recommendation to raise lawmakers’ pay by about $1,800 over the next two fiscal years. Both chambers were required to vote against the pay raises by February 1, or the increases would automatically take effect in the next year.

Several senators chose to recuse themselves from the vote on Monday evening, saying they were conflicted about having to vote on the matter of their own pay raise. Four Democrats and two Republicans pulled their votes for that very reason.

But after hours of debate on the Senate floor, Greitens began tweeting about the vote, saying it was outrageous, and that the last thing Missouri needed was a pay increase for politicians.

Republican Sens. Paul Wieland and Denny Hoskins reported being called into Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard’s office and being pressured by Greitens to vote against the pay increase. Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, said on the Senate floor that Greitens was “twisting their arms”.

Several of the senators spoke against the governor’s alleged tactics, with Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, leading the charge, criticizing Greitens for “intimidating” and “insulting” tactics. Sen. Maria Chappelle Nadal, D-St. Louis, also called on Greitens to come down and apologize to the senators.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, took the floor next, and while she also didn’t approve of the governor’s alleged actions, she pointed out that over the last eight years, the General Assembly had complained about having a disconnected governor. Nasheed said that the governor’s style is still being established and that he is showing himself to be a more interactive official.

“If you’re listening, you have an obligation to right your wrong,” Nasheed said on the Senate floor, her comments directed at the Republican governor.

The legislature has not approved a pay increase in years, to which Sen. Holsman said the legislature is underpaid and that lawmakers are too afraid of the press and the public to raise their wages.

But in the end, Sen. Nasheed chose to vote on the issue just before 11:30 p.m., allowing the final vote to take place.

With a final tally of 25-2, the Senate passed HCR 4, rejecting pay increases for another year. The Senate then adjourned until 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

Following the vote, Greitens tweeted, calling it a great victory for taxpayers.

On Tuesday, the governor posted a response to the criticisms on Facebook, commending the senators who voted against the pay raise.