Two weeks ago I wrote about the potential negative impact some last-minute revenue cuts passed by Missouri legislators could have on city finances. Those revenue cuts had been portrayed by some Republicans as business incentives and clarifications of existing sales tax policies. Some Democrats portrayed them as special favors. Either way, Gov. Nixon on Wednesday vetoed the bills calling them a “grab bag of generous giveaways” providing “secret sweetheart deals” and “special interest favors.”
During the last two weeks, a number of cities and counties had voiced some concerns over the potential losses of revenue. And as I said last week, while I don’t believe the impact was going to be as big as the governor’s office portrayed it to be, I also didn’t support the statements by House Speaker Tim Jones. Others I’ve spoken to in the last week who are on the inside of the Jefferson City political game seemed put out by the whole mess.
I do want to thank Rep. Bill Reiboldt for taking time to talk with me about the bills and his interpretation of what they would (and wouldn’t do) to revenues. He was the only elected official in Jefferson City who responded to my emails seeking more details on the matter.
Personally, I’m one that favors more local control. In other words, I believe that the people of Neosho, if given the chance, can do a better job of deciding what needs to happen with local revenues than someone hours away in the state capital. After all, we already do a budget. We already set our spending levels. We are certainly competent to make those local decisions.
Taking that position a step further, I’d say that if legislators in Jefferson City want to give tax breaks on sales taxes, let them do it with their portion of the funds and let the local governments decide LOCALLY if they wish to join. That’s similar (albeit not exactly the same) to the annual sales tax holiday for school supplies. While the state exempted some school items from state taxes, they also gave local cities and counties the ability to decide on the exemption at the local level. That allows people who are elected locally to decide issues locally versus having Jefferson City push a one-size-fits-all solution regardless of local need or extenuating circumstances.
Time will tell if Republicans can garner enough support to override the governor’s veto later this year. And given that any veto override will come well after our city’s budget is being finalized, any revenue reductions that may come about will have to be addressed on the fly. Either way, we will certainly do what is required to keep our budget in balance. But if given the choice, I’d prefer local elected officials have more local control over things that can impact our future, not less.
I had a great few days in Rolla this week as part of Leadership Missouri 2014. Energy and defense were the topics for the week. I’ll tell you more in a future column, but the discussions were certainly insightful.
Until next time: stay the course, keep the faith, and may God bless Neosho.
Richard Davidson is mayor of Neosho.