Blunt wants politicians off housing commission

Thursday, June 14, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:36 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s governor and lieutenant governor want to shed their duties on a state housing commission.

Gov. Matt Blunt and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder proposed Thursday to prohibit elected officials, such as themselves, from serving on the Missouri Housing Development Commission. They said it would remove any appearance that politics plays a role in the panel’s decisions.

The commission uses tax-free bonds and government tax credits to help finance affordable houses and apartments. Some of the housing developers who participate in the program have made sizable contributions to politicians’ campaigns.

Blunt, Kinder, Attorney General Jay Nixon and Treasurer Sarah Steelman all are members of the commission. The other six positions are filled by gubernatorial appointees.

Removing elected officials from the commission would require legislation, and lawmakers are not scheduled to meet in regular session until 2008.

The proposal to eliminate elected officials on the panel goes a step further than a recommendation from a task force appointed by Blunt, which had suggested only that they not serve as officers for the commission.

Steelman recently was its chairman, though that position now is held by gubernatorial appointee Richard Baalmann. The governor sent a letter Thursday to Baalmann urging the commission to go on the record in support of the proposed legislation to remove elected officials from the commission.

Blunt said his proposal was backed by Rep. Rodney Hubbard, D-St. Louis, who was a member of the task force.

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