Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon engaged in a little border war sniping Friday. Good for him.
At an appearance in the downtown Commerce Bank lobby in Kansas City, Nixon strongly defended his veto of what he called “unfair, unaffordable, costly, ill-conceived” tax cuts passed by the GOP-controlled legislature in Jefferson City. (Read the official veto message here
Pointing figuratively across the state line, Nixon said one reason he vetoed the tax cuts was because the measure mimics some of what is wrong with the Kansas tax reductions. They were backed by Gov. Sam Brownback and the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature.
“A tax cut is not something to experiment with,” Nixon said — something Brownback and his crowd should have thought of when they approved their measures in 2012.
The tax cuts in Kansas, Nixon said, have already “destabilized the economy” there. That was a partial reference to the fact that Kansas took in $92 million less than expected in April, a stunning fact state officials had to reveal earlier this week.
But Nixon spent more time talking about the fact that Moody’s Investor Services this week downgraded Kansas’ bond rating, a huge blow to the state. That action could raise interest rates paid by taxpayers across Kansas when public entities borrow money in the future. Kansas is really suffering because of the cuts,as I wrote Thursday
By contrast, Nixon said several times, Missouri is one of the few states in the nation with a solid Triple A bond rating, which it has had for many years.
That’s the “fiscal gold standard,” Nixon said, pointing out it saves the state and cities hundreds of millions in borrowing costs.
However, a downgrade similar to Kansas’ could lead to the evaporation of those savings, he said.
Of course, that hasn’t happened yet, so this was some hyperbole on the governor’s point. Still, by canceling the Kansas-like tax cuts in Missouri, Nixon said he wanted to stop the “very real threat to Missouri’s Triple A bond rating.”
He said the GOP-backed bill in Missouri could lead the state on the “same fiscally dangerous path” as Kansas.
When I asked Nixon if he blamed President Barack Obama for any of Missouri’s budget problems — as the Brownback administration did in silly fashion when April revenues plummeted — he declined to engage in trash talk about a fellow governor.
Saying he didn’t “want to go Rick Perry in the deal” — a reference to the Texas governor’s visit last year to press for tax reductions in Missouri — Nixon said he had to work with Brownback and other governors.
Still, he made this point: States “have a responsibility” to run their finances, no matter what’s happening in Washington.
Excellent point. Missouri, led by a responsible governor, is doing just that in fine fashion.
In Kansas, it’s another, less responsible story, and a sad one for the people of that state.