• Infrastructure Task Force Report on the Right Track

    Jan 03, 2018

    MO fuel tax mapAfter over half a year’s work, the 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force issued its final report on the state of Missouri’s transportation infrastructure.  The report lays out a thoughtful, three-part roadmap of recommendations to improve Missouri’s transportation system that recognizes the need to invest more in infrastructure to develop and maintain a system that will deliver economic growth.

    As St. Louis Regional Chamber President and CEO Joe Reagan has repeatedly noted, “deferred maintenance is not a capital plan.” The Chamber has for years strongly supported policies that would increase public investment in our transportation infrastructure.  We commend the Task Force in calling for an immediate investment package of $400-500 million annually to improve our roads and bridges, including a 10-cent increase in the gasoline tax and 12-cent increase in the diesel tax.

    A fuel tax is a form of user fee that captures income from both Missouri residents and non-residents who transit our state, increasing the revenue available for infrastructure funding.  The Chamber also supports the Task Force recommendation to index the fuel tax and other user and operator fees to account for inflation so that the purchasing power of these revenue streams do not diminish over time, which has contributed to our current underinvestment.

    We are also encouraged by the Task Force’s forward-thinking recommendation to invest more in modes of transportation that are increasingly needed to compete for workforce and jobs. A dedicated revenue stream of $50-70 million to increase investment in mass transit, rail, airports, and river transportation will allow us to take full advantage of our geographic advantage as the hub of four interstates, six class 1 railroads, five airports, and the third largest inland port in the United States, as well as providing options for the car-free lifestyle favored by increasing numbers of St. Louisans.

    At our Chamber Champions event in November, the Regional Chamber recognized Representative Kevin Corlew for his work establishing the Task Force and for his service as Chairman during the public hearing process. The report he and the dedicated public servants of the Task Force produced creates a clear vision of what we need to do.  We look forward to working with Rep. Corlew, the General Assembly and Governor Greitens to deliver the transportation infrastructure Missouri deserves.

  • Chamber Applauds Mayor Krewson on Selection of Police Commissioner Hayden

    Dec 28, 2017

    The St. Louis Regional Chamber applauds St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards for moving quickly and deliberately in selecting a new Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police Department. As a lifelong St. Louisan, Chief John Hayden knows our city.  His 30 years of experience, including his time commanding the North Patrol and the Internal Affairs Divisions, will serve him well in engaging with the community and leading the SLMPD to provide its motto of “Service, Integrity, Leadership, and Fair Treatment to All.”  He will have the benefit of public and private-sector leadership fully committed to providing him resources and supportive of tough decisions that may be needed in the months to come.

    We are encouraged by the level of community involvement in the selection process, including interviews with the Citizens Advisory Committee and the public town hall meeting for candidates.  Providing for the safety and security of all our neighborhoods is one of the most important functions of local government.  Safety is critical to our economic growth, which is why it has been the Chamber’s top policy priority over the last few years.

    However, Chief Hayden faces real challenges.  First among these is the need to restore trust in our justice system in many of our neighborhoods, especially those where racial and economic disparities are most acutely felt. The Chief cannot simply lead from Police Headquarters on Olive Street, but must make a sustained effort to meet with the business owners, faith leaders, and demonstrators and take real action to address their concerns.  We call on Chief Hayden to follow through on what he said during the press conference announcing his selection: focus on violent crime, increase community-oriented law enforcement efforts, get neighborhood input to improve community policing outcomes, and to continue to use his mobile office to be in the community he is responsible for policing.

    The recent passage of Proposition P will help ease concerns about a salary gap between city and county officers.  But we know the SLMPD continues to struggle to attract recruits – especially minority recruits – in numbers that will allow it to grow to authorized staffing levels.  A diverse police force helps provide the department with institutional knowledge of certain aspects of the community.  It increases the ability of officers to relate to people on a personal level, and helps reduce or eliminate stereotyping.  In short, it creates better law enforcement outcomes.  Chief Hayden should make recruitment and cultural sensitivity training a priority for the department.

    And as we are already quite aware, our fragmented system makes it more difficult to provide for safety and security in our region.  Crime does not respect political borders.  We hope that Chief Hayden will work to improve the relationship between the SLMPD and surrounding law enforcement agencies, in particular the St. Louis County Police Department, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, and key municipalities.

    A 2018 with over 200 homicides is simply not acceptable.  Chief Hayden and Public Safety Director Edwards must now act quickly to rebuild community trust and present us with a plan to make next year different than the one now drawing to a close. The Chamber and the private sector stand ready to do our part to help them both be successful.