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With 7 bills remaining, Nixon’s 31 vetoes set new personal high

31 vetoes don’t include line-item vetoes in 13 budget bills

With seven bills still to be acted on by the end of Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon already has vetoed 31 of the 163 bills lawmakers passed and sent to him during the 2014 General Assembly — the most vetoes Nixon has issued in his six years as Missouri’s chief executive.

Nixon also vetoed line-items in 13 of the 15 budget bills the lawmakers passed in May.

Last year, Nixon vetoed 29 of the 150 bills lawmakers sent him, plus three line-item vetoes in budget bills.

The modern record for gubernatorial vetoes is 35, set by then-Gov. John M. Dalton in 1961, his first year in office.

The 31 vetoes includes one he issued last May, while lawmakers still were in-session — and they already overrode that veto of a bill lowering the state’s income taxes by one-half percent over a period of years, beginning in 2017, if the state’s revenues grow by at least $150 million over any one of the three previous business years.

Ten of the remaining 30 make a number of cuts or exemptions to state sales tax collections and were passed May 16, the General Assembly session’s last day.

Nixon has taken to calling those 10 bills the “Friday Favors,” and vetoed all of them June 11, saying they had not been accounted for in the state’s budget bills, and they had “blown” a nearly $800 million hole in state and local budgets for every year in the future.

The Missouri Constitution requires the governor to approve or reject a complete bill — he can’t sign some parts of a bill and reject other parts of that same bill — except for appropriations bills.

On those, the Constitution says: “The governor may object to one or more items or portions of items of appropriation of money in any bill presented to him, while approving other portions of the bill.

“On signing it he shall append to the bill a statement of the items or portions of items to which he objects and such items or portions shall not take effect.”

On June 24, Nixon vetoed $144.6 million in general revenue spending that had been authorized in this year’s 15 budget measures.

The only two bills spared a line-item veto were the bill paying on the public debt, which is the Constitution’s first budget priority, and the bill providing supplemental appropriations for the 2013-14 business year that ended June 30.

The Constitution also schedules a veto session on the second Wednesday of each September for lawmakers to attempt to override any vetoes the governor issued, on both the budget items and the bills proposing new laws or changes in existing laws.

Last year’s veto session saw the Republican-led Legislature overturn 10 of the governor’s 29 vetoes.

At the same time he issued the line-item vetoes last month, the governor also announced restrictions — generally called withholdings — on $641.6 million in general revenue expenditures.

Nixon said if lawmakers uphold his vetoes of the 10 “Friday Favors” sales tax bills, he immediately will release the nearly $200 million in education funding that was held back.

Other withheld funds could be released if the state’s income grows at a greater rate than lawmakers or the governor predicted late last year.

But, because revenues didn’t grow this past 12 months as lawmakers and the governor had predicted in late-2012, Nixon last month also announced the permanent elimination of 260 full-time state employees, adding to the 4,600 positions eliminated since he became governor in January 2009.

The governor also announced the permanent closing of 19 regional offices for the Revenue, Natural Resources and Mental Health departments.

The Revenue Department was to close seven tax assistance centers around the state, which handled personal income tax and business tax issues.

One of those centers was in Room 330 of the Truman State Office Building, which closed last week.

“Six positions were eliminated,” Revenue spokeswoman Michelle Gleba said last week. “All six employees were able to find other positions within the Department.”

The individuals and businesses who used that office to answer their tax questions are encouraged to contact the department by phone or email, Gleba said. “Many answers to their questions, as well as online services, are available on our website,” which is www.dor.mo.gov.

Closing the tax assistance office did not affect the department’s license offices in the Truman Building.

Mid-Missourians still can get driver license services in Truman Building Room 470, and motor vehicle services in Room 370.

Or they can visit the department’s contract offices at 1617 Southridge Drive, Jefferson City; 1021 W. Buchanan St., California; 354 Country Meadows Drive, Fulton; 1220 E. Main St., Linn; 401 W. 4th St., Eldon; 403 Vandiver Drive-Suite B, Columbia; 61 McCrory Drive, Camdenton; or 211 4th St., Vienna.

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