The biggest thing dominating news at the capitol this week is the reply by house speaker Tim Jones and budget chairman Rick Stream to Gov. Nixon's attempts to prevent the legislature from overriding his veto of HB 253.
The governor has consistently painted himself as a proponent of lowering our tax burdens and allowing Missourians to keep more of their hard earned tax dollars. Even his inaugural address and his State of the State address were filled with rhetoric about overhauling our tax system to make it more fair for hardworking citizens. We then took it upon ourselves to craft a tax bill that for the first time in 92 years would allow a break for taxpayers.
Out of nowhere, the governor now is resorting to political stunts and fear mongering in order to prevent this well-deserved tax cut for Missourians and Missouri business. I find it even more outrageous that the governor has fabricated a false choice pitting the tax cut against funding for education. He is making this pitiful argument while the state has a surplus of hundreds of millions! We can benefit from a reduced tax burden without jeopardizing the record levels of funding we are providing to education.
Inaccurate projections are being used to mislead us about the true impact of HB253 according to Rick Stream the budget chair. He states that the real truth is our state is experiencing a healthy level of growth and Missourians deserve to have a portion of their hard earned dollars returned to them in the form of a tax cut.
The real figures show that at the end of fiscal year 2013 we had collected $742 million more dollars than in FY 2012 and had a sustained growth of 10.11 percent. If you believe the governor's scare tactic, he would have us believe that we are teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff. Bologna! How can you spend $6 million on an airplane you don't need then tell the citizens you can't give them a tax break? He makes reference to provisions in the Federal Marketplace Fairness Act, which is something that in all probability will not even be enacted. Even if it is enacted, the Missouri Constitution specifically states that it could not harm the tax process in current law.
In an attempt to bully the legislature, the governor has withheld needlessly $400 million. This measure in a time of excess is an overreach of his constitutional authority. He knows, however, that by the time the Supreme Court rules, the harm will be done.
What he is threatening is a withhold of $400 million from education and social services. Now just how in the heck do you justify taking money away from education because you're afraid that a tax break will take money away from education? I might be fairly new to this politics business but even a novice can see that there is a flaw in that thinking! The truth is that there are safeguards built into the proposed new law that require the state to have at least $100 million dollars in growth before the tax breaks take effect. The people of the state of Missouri sent us to office to take the kind of bold steps forward that the most significant tax cut in nearly a century would provide. I voted for the tax reduction bill during session and I sure intend to vote to override the veto.
Page 2 of 2 - I've gotten a lot of support for my plan to hold a child abuse hearing in the district. We are working on the format for the meeting and I would be glad to hear some suggestions. We could have a "listening post" type of session where we hear from a number of folks pertaining to their experiences. The whole idea for the first year was to gather as much information from around the state as possible, then start looking for solutions to the problem areas. We have had some great meetings with department heads so far, but I think it's time to start hearing from foster parents and adoptive parents as well. I'll share the plans for the October meeting with you as soon as we formalize them.
"Food For Thought" this week: If you have to get your parents' permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, BUT NOT to get an abortion.... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
Until next week, I am and remain, in your service.
Bill Lant represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Mo. House of Representatives. Contact him locally at 437-8223 or at his Jefferson City office at (573) 751-9801 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.