Our Opinion: Sustain veto of flawed tax cut bill

News Tribune editorial

We favor the concept of cutting taxes.

But we oppose the specific tax cut expected to be a focal point during the Legislature’s upcoming veto session, which begins Wednesday.

The tax cut was orchestrated and approved by the Republican-led Legislature during the regular session and subsequently vetoed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Our objection to the proposed law is a provision to repeal the tax exemption for prescription drugs. We believe this provision is a fatal flaw that renders other arguments moot.

Even GOP proponents of the tax cut bill admit the repeal of the prescription drug tax exemption was unintended. When the error was revealed after the session, proponents encouraged Nixon to sign the bill, which they promised to fix later.

More recently, tax cut supporters have asked the governor to convene a special session — concurrent with the veto session — to fix errors in the bill. In addition to the prescription drug provision, a dispute has arisen concerning whether tax cuts would apply retroactively.

Nixon rejected a special session. “Trying to throw something together at the last minute is not the responsible approach to an issue as complex and important as tax policy.”

We agree.

The proposed tax cut bill is complex and important. Public understanding of its provisions has not been advanced by the exaggeration and hyperbole being heaped on Missourians by both supporters and opponents, including the governor.

Tax cut opponents have fueled fears that state services — pertaining to education, health care, capital improvements and more — will come to a screeching halt, and that the state workforce will be decimated.

Supporters promise the tax cut will trickle down from employers to employees and lift all boats to economic prosperity.

As we wrote in this forum in July, the Republican argument to pass a flawed bill and fix it later is hollow.

History has shown no agreed-upon fix is a sure thing, because popular proposals invariably attract all manner of attachments and amendments.

In addition, we agree with Nixon’s argument that a special-session quick fix is irresponsible.

We see no urgency to pass a tax cut bill — particularly one supporters admit is flawed.

On this issue, we encourage lawmakers to reconvene in January, work with the governor, and do it right.

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