Governor Jay Nixon appears to have launched a campaign to preserve his veto of legislation that would cut Missouri's income tax rate for the first time in more than 90 years. The cut would create a hole in the budget equivalent to the elimination of all state support for higher education institutions.
Jay Nixon says Missouri has come to a fork in the road, "Members of the General Assembly can either support House Bill 253 or they can support higher education, but they can't do both."
Sen. Will Kraus, a Republican from Lee's Summit, believes that if the state does nothing it will lose Missouri businesses.
Legislative Republicans argued the income tax cut here was needed to keep jobs from leaving Missouri for Kansas, which had already taken similar action.
Nixon says Kansas was forced to increase sales taxes and cut 35 million dollars from higher education to offset the loss.
"House bill 253 would take us down that same road," says Nixon. "And that is why you must make your voices heard now, and make sure my veto is sustained in the fall."
Republicans now hold veto-proof, two-thirds "super" majorities in both the house and senate. But in the house, there are no GOP votes to spare and the administration hopes to convince Republicans lawmakers of the error of their ways.
For example, they point to a provision that cuts state taxes by an additional one-half percent once Congress signs off on a national use tax collections bill. That provision allows taxpayers to claim refunds for the previous three tax years and the administration says that take more than a billion dollars from the 2014 budget. The Nixon people wonder how many lawmakers really understand that effect of the bill.
"As you all know, there were lots of changes. And the bill that actually passed happened very late in session. The bill that was moving was a completely different bill," says Budget Director Linda Leubbering.
Lawmakers reconvene in September, when Republican leaders have promised to put the tax cut plan back on the floor and test the super majority with a veto override the vote.