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Seniors hear Nixon's plea against tax bill

Bill would impose sales taxes on prescription medicine

Gov. Jay Nixon visits with more than 30 seniors Tuesday, at the Eldon Senior Center, explaining how his administration calculates financial problems through a new sales tax on prescription drugs, and lower state aid levels to public schools, if lawmakers override his veto of a tax-cut bill.

Gov. Jay Nixon visits with more than 30 seniors Tuesday, at the Eldon Senior Center, explaining how his administration calculates financial problems through a new sales tax on prescription drugs, and lower state aid levels to public schools, if lawmakers override his veto of a tax-cut bill. Photo by Bob Watson.

ELDON, Mo. — For more than a month, Gov. Jay Nixon has been urging audiences around the state to tell lawmakers to uphold his veto of a major tax cut bill.

It’s “a tax increase that Missourians cannot afford — and don’t deserve,” he told more than 30 people gathered at the Eldon Senior Center Tuesday afternoon.

“A bill that increases taxes on every single Missourian taking prescription drugs — by $200 million a year — cannot become law,” the governor proclaimed. “Since 1979, Missouri has exempted prescription drugs from state sales tax — an exemption this bill eliminates in one fell swoop.”

In Eldon, the sales tax would add more than 8 percent to consumers’ bills, Nixon said.

“The Legislature, I think they need to think a little bit about the seniors, because there are some people, who live right here in Eldon, who have to choose between their medication and whether they eat or not,” said 72-year-old Patsy Picknell after hearing Nixon speak.

“Myself, I’ve got a little over $300 by the time I pay my rent, my prescriptions, my life insurance and my (insurance) supplement.”

That $300 a month “is what I buy my groceries with,” she added, “and if I put any gas in my car, I might put it in once a month.”

Nixon said there are many reasons for lawmakers to reject the effort to order the “fiscally irresponsible” tax cut bill into law over his veto. And the prescription drug increase tops the list.

“Clearly this was a mistake that was in this bill,” the governor said. “The first vote to raise taxes on prescription drugs may have been an accident. ...

“But now that they understand the gravity of this error, there is no excuse to vote a second time to raise taxes on seniors, cancer patients and others who depend on prescription medications to stay healthy.”

Brumley native James Allee, 88, served in World War II and later worked in Kansas City until he retired.

He and his wife moved back to Brumley until poor health required the couple to move to Eldon in 2002, to be closer to doctors.

“When (Nixon) was talking about the tax deal, I think he was pretty well on track,” Allee said, even though he thinks his medicines from the Veterans Administration won’t be affected as much by the prescriptions sales tax.

“(Lawmakers) should use their own common sense, and know what is good for the people,” he added. “It’s not, necessarily, what’s good for their job or their party or whatever — they should think about the people (who) put them in there.”

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