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Gov. Jay Nixon denounces Missouri General Assembly’s latecoming tax breaks

05/28/2014 3:47 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

The bill has come due for the General Assembly’s last-day-of-session tax break “spending spree,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Wednesday in Kansas City.

Nixon’s budget office calculated that the tax breaks lawmakers issued to fast-food restaurants, power companies and dry cleaners, among others, would cut state and local revenues by $776 million a year.

Kansas City would see nearly a $26 million cut while Jackson County would see almost a $13 million trim, Nixon said.

On the state level, Nixon said, the lost revenue could take money from schools, state parks, college scholarships and mental health services. At the local level, budgets for firefighters, police, snowplows and libraries would be hit, he said.

The Democratic governor, who also visited St. Louis on Wednesday, said he’s never seen lawmakers “blow up a budget” the same way before.

“They abandoned all fiscal restraint, broke their own budget blueprint and went on a special-interest spending spree on an unprecedented scale,” Nixon told reporters at his Kansas City office.

Republicans disputed the governor’s claims.

“These are much-needed clarifications to our tax laws that will prevent the governor from exceeding his authority by unfairly collecting more taxes from our employers who create the family-supporting jobs that drive our economic engine,” House Speaker Tim Jones said.

“Business leaders around our state have made it clear they are greatly displeased with the way the chief executive has chosen to narrowly interpret many of our existing tax exemptions so that he can collect more of our tax dollars to further grow the size of government.”

Nixon hinted that he would veto the tax breaks and would make formal announcements about his decisions in coming weeks. Even if he vetoes the measures, the governor said he still must account for the potential cuts in the budget that begins on July 1 because lawmakers could override his vetoes when they return for a fall wrap-up session.

Nixon called the actions by the Republican-led General Assembly a “Friday free-for-all” and a “grab bag of giveaways” to special interests that would result in a “massive hole” in the budget that legislators had passed just a week earlier.

He declined to comment on whether lawmakers passed the measures to curry favor with those special interests in an election year.

“Not a penny for it was accounted for in the budget sent to my desk,” Nixon said.

Republicans touted the breaks as long overdue.

“Look at the fact that Missouri has not reformed its tax code or had an income tax cut in nearly 100 years,” House Speaker Tim Jones, a Republican, said at session’s end. “You have to call that historic.”

To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to skraske@kcstar.com.

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