Nixon won’t call special session on income tax cut

Gov. Jay Nixon said Wednesday lawmakers should wait until January to rewrite a controversial tax cuts bill, rejecting the House sponsor’s request for a special legislative session next week.

“Give us an opportunity to fix the errors you believe exist sooner rather than later,” Rep. T.J. Berry, R-Kearney, wrote to Nixon.

Spokesman Scott Holste said the governor repeatedly has expressed a willingness to work on the tax code with lawmakers when they return in January.

“Trying to throw something together at the last minute is not the responsible approach to an issue as complex and important as tax policy,” Holste said in a Wednesday email.

Among its numerous provisions, the 177-page bill would reduce income taxes by one-half percent over a 10-year period — the first significant changes in Missouri income tax rates in nearly a century.

But Nixon vetoed it two months ago as “an ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible experiment.”

Supporters say it’s a needed step to improve Missouri’s competitiveness with other states — especially neighboring Kansas and Oklahoma.

Two supporters of the tax cuts measure are visiting several cities this week, urging Missourians to support the tax cuts plan and an override next week of Nixon’s veto.

“The fact of the matter is ... it’s a proven fact,” former state Rep. Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles, told the News Tribune on Wednesday. “Oklahoma’s been cutting personal income taxes since 2005; they have never seen a ‘down’ year — they have always seen more revenue produced than during the previous year, despite the claims that there would be less.”

Bearden now is executive director of United for Missouri, one of 17 mostly business and agricultural groups in the “Grow Missouri” coalition (www.growmissouri.com) that supports a veto override.

State Rep. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg — recently chosen in the House Republican caucus as the likely next Speaker pro tem — said Wednesday: “How can we afford not to do anything?

“We can’t just keep sticking our heads in the sand, to pretend that jobs and companies and those families aren’t moving to Kansas and other states.”

In his six-page veto message on June 5, the governor cited 10 issues with the bill and its language, including a poor definition of “business income” that is to receive tax-cut benefits; a $200 million tax increase by eliminating the current sales tax exemption on prescription medicines; eliminating the sales tax exemption for college textbook purchases; and long-term cuts to state education funding.

The Coalition for Missouri’s Future (www.missourifuture.net) — a group of 50 education, labor, religious, social service and health care associations — supports the governor’s veto.

The governor has been meeting with various education leaders around the state, saying implementation of the vetoed bill would cost Missouri’s 520 public school districts at least $260 million a year in state aid.

Education groups also note that lawmakers still have not fully funded the 2005 school-aid law that promised full funding by this past business year.

Bearden said Wednesday: “I can’t say for sure, but there’s probably no state that is fully funding their education formula. ... We’ve got a very modest — and that’s being kind — a modest tax cut here.”

He said if the bill becomes law, “We will see an increase in revenues. And that will provide more money to be allocated to education.”

In his veto letter, Nixon noted Missouri’s taxes already are “among the lowest in the nation,” and additional cuts triggered by the bill “would leave a gaping budget hole for decades to come, requiring cuts of such magnitude that meeting even our basic obligations ... would be out of reach.”

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