House fails to override tax-cut bill

Local legislators: Tax relief must be picked up again

Rep. Neal Torpey, R-Independence and Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, near, keep eyes and ears on debate on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives during the opening hours of this year’s veto session.

Rep. Neal Torpey, R-Independence and Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, near, keep eyes and ears on debate on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives during the opening hours of this year’s veto session. Photo by Julie Smith.

While Rep. Jay Barnes said he isn’t surprised the Missouri House failed to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a controversial tax-cut bill, the Jefferson City lawmaker thought the vote would be much closer.

The override failed 94-67. The tax-cut bill needed 109 votes, a two-thirds majority, to pass the House and move to the Senate.

Nixon applauded the General Assembly for sustaining his veto.

“Today’s vote represents a defining moment for our state and a victory for all Missourians,” Nixon said Wednesday in a press conference after the vote.

Barnes voted ‘yes’ on the tax-cut bill; as did Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City; and Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane.

The bill, House Bill 253, included a half-percent income tax reduction for individuals and businesses over at least a 10-year period. It sought to increase taxes on textbooks and prescription drugs.

In Nixon’s veto letter, the governor said the legislation “is an ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible experiment that would inject far-reaching uncertainty into our economy, undermine our state’s fiscal health, and jeopardize basic funding for education and vital public services.”

In the days leading up to the veto session, Nixon rallied key groups by his side.

In July, The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) released calculations predicting if the tax-cut bill were passed, that the state’s 520 public school districts could lose at least $260 million a year in state aid.

Three teachers unions released an analysis nearly two weeks ago, estimating that about 5,400-9,400 public school teachers in Missouri could be let go if the Legislature overrides Nixon’s veto of House Bill 253.

Naysayers of Nixon’s veto believe the bill is key for Missouri businesses and state job growth.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the bill would allow Missouri to compete economically with other states.

Daniel P. Mehan, president of the chamber, touted similar tax cuts that have been successful in six states surrounding Missouri—Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Barnes said the arguments presented for, and against, the tax-cut bill during Wednesday’s veto session were no different than the one’s presented prior to the day.

Rep. T.J. Berry, R-Kearney, sponsored the bill and said investing in small businesses, through tax cuts, enables the state to grow.

“We want to help the people of Missouri grow,” he said Wednesday in the House chambers.

Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, told fellow House members the bill would hurt the middle class.

“We are lining the pockets of corporations’ top brass for nothing in return,” she said. “It’s bad for the middle class. It’s bad tax policy.”

She also said the bill would under-fund education even more.

In response to the House’s vote on the veto override of the tax-cut bill, Riddle said she’s a true believer in win-win situations.

“There’s no reason for us not to be able to give Missouri tax cuts and to fund education,” she said in support of a tax-cut bill.

Barnes agreed.

“I do think we need to go in a different direction in developing broad-based tax relief for small businesses,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to incentivize and invest in Missouri.”

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka said the failed override of the vetoed tax-cut bill “is only a temporary setback for the majority of House members who believe substantive tax relief is the best way to grow our economy.”

“We will not be swayed from our efforts to provide Missourians with the tax relief they deserve, and we will make a tax cut our top legislative priority when we return for the 2014 legislative session in January,” Jones said.

Related articles about Wednesday's veto session:

Three big-ticket vetoes stand: Tax cut, gun rights, sex offenders

Nixon ‘gun rights’ veto sustained

Veto sustained on Missouri unemployment bill

Veto sustained on Missouri international law bill

Gov. Nixon's veto sustained on UN agreement

Veto stands on Missouri work comp database

Additional online resources:

2013 House Roll Calls

2013 Senate Roll Calls

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