The Buzz

Nixon: I expect to win the big tax fight in Missouri

The political fight over big tax cuts in Missouri reached Kansas City on Thursday.

First, Gov. Jay Nixon told reporters at the Kauffman Foundation that he expects to win a fight over a bill that would phase in $700 million a year in tax cuts for businesses and individuals.

On June 5, Nixon vetoed the bill, which he has called “ill-conceived” and “irresponsible.” Backers, including state Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee’s Summit Republican, say the measure is something else entirely. They say it’s Missouri’s response to major tax cuts in Kansas that are siphoning away Show-Me businesses.

But the Democratic governor is leading a fierce fight to protect his veto. Legislators are expected to try to override it when they return to the Capitol in September.

“We’ve had a good outpouring of support,” Nixon said. “It’s certainly my hope and expectation that we’ll be able to sustain the veto.”

Once again, he outlined his concerns, saying $700 million in cuts when the bill is fully in effect is equal to all the money the state now spends on higher education or the Corrections Department.

“It’s a lot of money,” Nixon said. “Quite frankly, we have been smart about tax policy in Missouri. I’ve cut the franchise tax. We’ve worked to make sure our state is a low-tax state.

“To try and experiment and pull (so much money) out of a budget would have a very negative effect on important public education as well as other services that can provide an opportunity for all our kids to succeed.”

Later in the day, Nixon’s challenge was compounded by a filing with the state ethics agency that showed that anti-tax crusader Rex Sinqufield had poured $1.3 million into a campaign to override the veto. Sinquefield has spent that much before on his various causes in the state, but no one denied that the donation to the Grow Missouri Committee will have an impact.

The override vote is expected to be close.

Nixon reiterated his concerns that House Bill 253 raises taxes on Missourians who take prescription medication. Since 1979, Missouri law has exempted prescription drug costs and co-pays from state sales tax. Language in Section 144.030 of House Bill 253 would repeal this exemption, resulting in an estimated $200 million tax increase on Missourians who take prescription medication.