JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – No matter where you live in the Show Me State, each Missouri voter will have five questions to answer at the bottom of their ballot, one of which deals with the state treasurer’s authority to invest state funds.
The last time the Missouri’s constitution was revised was in the 1940s. Since then, there has been language in the 200-plus page document limiting what the Missouri treasurer can invest in. Voters will now get to decide if the state’s chief financial officer’s authority should be expanded.
“We are only one of two states that have their investment options completely defined in their constitution,” Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick said. “That has cost us a lot of money. It’s cost us millions and millions of dollars per year.”
He said Montana is the only other state who limits its treasurer. For 80 years, Missouri’s treasurer has been confined to certain investments. Fitzpatrick, also the Republican nominee for state auditor, said even with the most restrictive investment guidelines in the country, the state has already made more than $60 million in interest earnings this year.
“We’re set up to have a record year this year because we’re in a rising environment and the amount of money we’re investing is larger than it’s ever been,” Fitzpatrick said.
He’s asking voters to vote “Yes” on Amendment 1, saying it could save Missourians money.
“Every dollar we’re able to return to taxpayers in the form of investment earnings is a dollar we don’t have to take from the taxpayers in the form of taxes,” Fitzpatrick said. “We could make significantly more than that if we had some additional authority to invest in some of these other products that we can’t currently invest in.”
The question reads, “Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to:
- allow the General Assembly to override the current constitutional restrictions of state investments by the state treasurer; and
- allow state investments in municipal securities possessing one of the top five highest long term ratings or the highest short term rating?
The referendum was approved by the General Assembly earlier this year and would allow the state treasurer to invest in municipal securities and to expand the timeframe to invest in treasury bonds from five years to seven.
“It really came to a head for us during the pandemic when the interest rate environment went to basically zero,” Fitzpatrick said. “We had a really hard time finding places where we could put our money for a positive rate of return.”
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said if the amendment is approved, voters would no longer have to approve financial changes in the state.
“If you believe that you can trust the legislature to make the decisions as to expanding what the treasurer is allowed to invest in, you probably are in favor of that,” Ashcroft said. “If you think that the people should have the final say on what the treasurer is allowed to ivnest in, then you probably want to vote no.”
If approved, Fitzpatrick says the General Assembly would be encouraged to pass laws that would create additional investment options for the treasurer.
“I’ve heard criticism it would give too much power to the legislature; it would give too much power to the treasurer. And the reality of it is no one person can act alone, any more so than we can today, if this amendment passes,” Fitzpatrick said. “It would still take the governor, the legislature, and the treasurer all being on the same page for the state to invest its money in something that it’s not investing in today.”
The Missouri NAACP is again Amendment 1, calling it the “Treasurer’s Gamble.”
“I don’t want the treasurer going out and investing in some kind of Ponzi scheme,” Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel Jr. said. “Those are our tax dollars and they need to be kept safe for future generations.”
Amendment 1 does not affect the investments in the state’s pension system. Fitzpatrick said if passed, the referendum could help local governments and school since the state will be able to buy their bonds.
Other questions on the ballot include asking voters if the state should have a constitutional convention, something that hasn’t been approved since 1942. Ashcroft said the ballot measure has to be asked every 20 years.
The question reads, “Shall there be a convention to revise and amend the constitution?”
Voters will also see Amendment 4 on their ballot, no matter where they live. The referendum asks if the Kansas City Police Department should receive an increasing funding.
Although, the question doesn’t specifically mention “Kansas City,” it’s the only police department in the state that has a state board of commissioners appointed by the governor, other than the mayor. If passed, the city would have to spend 25% of its general revenue on KCPD, compared to the 20% it’s required to spend now. The legislation was passed by the General Assembly, but due to how large the increase is, voters have to approve it.
The question reads, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to authorize laws, passed before December 31, 2026, that increase minimum funding for a police force established by a state board of police commissioners to ensure such police force has additional resources to serve its communities?
Amendment 5 on the ballot will ask voters if the Missouri National Guard should have its own department.
The question reads, “Shall the Missouri National Guard currently under the Missouri Department of Public Safety be its own department known as the Missouri Department of the National Guard, which shall be required to protect the constitutional rights and civil liberties of Missourians?”
Both Amendments 4 and 5 were also approved by the General Assembly.
Amendment 3 was added by the Legal Missouri 22 campaign after getting enough signatures to put the initiative petition on the ballot. This referendum asks voters if recreational marijuana should be legal for those 21 and older.
The question on the ballot added by Legal Missouri 22 reads, “Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to:
- Remove state prohibitions on purchasing, possession, consuming, using, delivering, manufacturing, and selling marijuana for personal use for adults over the age of 21
- Require a registration card for personal cultivation with prescribed limits
- Allow persons with certain marijuana-related non-violent offenses to petition for release from incarceration or parole and probation and have records expunged
- Establish a lottery selection process to award licenses and certificates
- Issue equally distributed licenses to each congressional district
- Impose a six percent tax on the retail price of marijuana to benefit various programs
Remember, Missouri voters need a government-issued photo ID to vote. If on Election Day, you don’t have an ID or you forget yours at home, but you’re a registered voter, you can vote with a provisional ballot.
Ashcroft expects to have preliminary election results three or four hours after polls close Tuesday night.
Click here to visit the Secretary of State’s website to see the 2022 ballot measures.