Gov. Jay Nixon brought his campaign against a Republican-backed state income tax cut to town Monday night and urged a couple hundred school officials and community leaders to urge their legislators to sustain his veto of the bill. He said the bill would force draconian cuts to public schools in Missouri.
The governor has been touring the state to fight supporters of the bill, which he called a “reckless experiment cooked up by a few special interests, bankrolled by one very wealthy individual.” He was referring to retired investor Rex Sinquefield, the founder of a committee called Grow Missouri that has been mounting an expensive advertising blitz in favor of the bill. Supporters of the tax cut bill say it would boost the state economy and jobs.
In a speech at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Nixon also attacked “lobbyists and lawyers” who backed the bill and called them “special interests.” Nixon says the bill would also would hurt seniors and raise the cost of prescription drugs as well as harm education. The Legislature will hold a veto session next month.
Nixon warned Monday that if legislators listened to the “ideologues” and overrode his veto of the income tax bill the state could lose $800 million. The Legislature says the reduction would be about $692 million. According to the administration, K-12 school funding would plummet by $260 million a year. St. Louis city schools could see a reduction of at least $10.3 million a year, and up to $17.8 million this year, the governor said.
The bill “would starve our public schools of the basic support they need to educate our kids now… and for years to come – draining billions away from our schools over the next decade,” he said.
Nixon disappointed some in the audience in saying that he wanted to wait until next year to address state law on the student transfer programs affecting the Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts. The districts are involved in the program because they lack state accreditation and must pay for tuition and transportation for their students to other schools.
“I understand how the recent court ruling on transfers has resulted in a lot of uncertainty and stress for your districts, and your students,” the governor said.
Later, he called the transfer program “impractical and expensive” and said policy leaders needed to find a solution.
But in response to a question from Dryver Henderson, a Normandy resident concerned about the transfer program, Nixon said that he would not call a special session on the student transfer issue this year because there was no consensus among legislators on a solution. It would be a “debating society,” he said.
To that, Henderson replied that because of financial problems, “By that time, we may not have our school district anymore.”