Berry Says His Tax Cut Bill override Faces “Steep Hill”
September 9, 2013

Clay County Republican T. J. Berry says his tax cut bill, House Bill 253,may be a few votes short as the veto session approaches later this week.

“I think I’m climbing a pretty steep hill,” said Berry. He sponsored the legislation this year in the House.

Both houses of the legislature must get two-thirds majorities needed to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of the measure.

Berry added he thought the issue was “still in doubt”.

The Clay County Republican had asked the Democratic Governor to call a special session of lawmakers to address Nixon’s issues. The Governor rejected the request.

Republicans say Missouri is overdue for cuts in business and personal incomes tax rates. They think lower taxes would help Missouri compete with neighboring states like Kansas, Oklahoma and Tenn.

Nixon has campaigned through Missouri all summer long saying the bill has problems.

The Democrat thinks the measure could costs Missouri’s schools millions of dollars in money lost by reductions in state funds.

Independence School Superintendent Dale Herl says his district could face a loss of up to $5.8 million oper year under the tax cut bill.

He points to language in the measure that adds sales tax to prescriptions and the sale of college text books.

Monday, another group criticized the bill at a Kansas City news conference.

A group called the ‘Coalition for Missouri’s Future’ called on lawmakers to sustain Nixon’s veto of the measure.

Norma Collins of the Missouri Chapter of the American Association of retired persons says the personal tax cut most Missourians would see is about $6. She compared that to buying a hamburger at a fast food restaurant..

T. J. Berry Wants Special Session With Veto Session to Settle Tax Cut Bill Dispute
August 29, 2013

One of the sponsors of the tax cut bill that may prompt a big veto fight next month, wants Governor Jay Nixon to call a special session to deal with the differences.
Clay County Representative T. J. Berry says he’s asking Governor Nixon to call a special session to run at the same time as next month’s veto session.
That session begins on September 11.
Berry says that is the time to take up the disputes between lawmakers and the Governor over the tax cut bill, HB 253.
Republicans says the $700 million dollar bill will cut taxes, and spur Missouri’s economy. They also hope it will allow Missouri to compete economically with bordering states like Kansas.
Governor Nixon vetoed the bill. He has campaigned much of the summer, saying it has major problems.
Nixon thinks the bill will harm education in Missouri.
He also says there is a flaw in the bill that would increase the costs of prescription drugs for older Missourians.
Republicans concede that might be a problem. They maintain, however, it can be repaired by the legislature.
‘Let’s get it done”, said Berry Thursday afternoon.
He says a special session, by law, can last up to 10 days.
Berry believes that is enough time for Republicans in the Legislature and the Democratic Governor, to “address the issues he brought up,” said Berry.
Berry said he decided to move on the special session idea after Attorney General Chris Koster issued an opinion Thursday on the tax cut bill (see previous post).
Koster wrote it is his office’s opinion, there is language in the bill that lets Missouri taxpayers collect tax refunds retroactively for three years prior to the enactment of the bill.
The Koster ruling is viewed as a victory for Nixon and those who oppose the bill.
The September veto session may be one of the biggest showdowns between the Democratic Governor and the Republican majorities in the legislature since Nixon took office.
Nixon has vetoed more than two dozen bills, the most ever after a single session of the legislature since he’s been in office.
House Speaker Tim Jones has indicated lawmakers may try to override most, if not all, of Nixon’s vetoes.

Missouri Lawmakers Set to Take On Nixon Tax Cut Veto
August 20, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — Win or lose, Missouri Republicans want a vote on tax cuts.

From the moment Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a roughly $700 million tax proposal passed by a GOP-dominated General Assembly earlier this year, legislative leaders have scrambled to muster enough support for an override.

But week after week in events around the state, Nixon, a Democrat, rallied opposition and assailed the proposal as “an ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible experiment.” In the process, a few GOP lawmakers who originally supported the measure got cold feet.

Now, with the campaign entering its final weeks, Republicans still don’t know whether they have enough votes to override Nixon’s veto when they return to the Capitol on Sept. 11. But even if they come up short, House Speaker Tim Jones says he owes it to the voters who gave the GOP veto-proof supermajorities in the House and Senate to bring the bill up for a vote, regardless of the expected outcome.

“It’s too close to call at this point,” said Jones, a Eureka Republican. “If you’re a Republican, you have a very hard decision to make about whether you want to support something that is a central plank of our party — reducing taxes — or whether you want to stand with the governor.”

House Republicans gathered over the weekend in St. Louis for their annual summer caucus to discuss the governor’s vetoes and gauge support for any overrides. Rep. T.J. Berry, a Kearney Republican who sponsored the tax-cut bill, said he emerged from the gathering emboldened.

“I think support is solidifying,” Berry said. “Is it a slam dunk? No, but I think we’re very close.”

Nixon Warns ‘Border War’ Tax Cut Bill Could Raise Taxes on Seniors
May 31, 2013

(AP) — Already leaning toward a veto, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon raised a new objection Thursday to an income-tax-cut bill passed by Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature – asserting it could result in a more than $200 million tax hike on prescription medications.
Nixon said his administration discovered the potential tax increase – an apparent technical mistake – as part of a routine but thorough review of legislation passed during the annual session that came to an official close Thursday.
“The out-of-pocket cost of prescription drugs, especially for those suffering from cancer, heart disease or other life-threatening conditions, already puts a strain on many Missouri families,” Nixon said in a written statement. “That is why it is so troubling that House Bill 253 would repeal Missouri’s long-standing sales tax exemption on prescription drugs.”
He added: “This is a tax increase that Missourians cannot afford and don’t deserve.”
Supporters of the legislation reacted to Nixon’s revelation with surprise and frustration.
Sen. Will Kraus, who was the main architect of the bill, said House sponsor Rep. T.J. Berry both said they never intended to repeal the existing tax exemption for prescription drugs and had no previous indication that the bill might do so. Kraus said the specific wording at issue actually was recommended by personnel in Nixon’s Department of Revenue.
“This is as much the governor’s slip up or mishap,” said Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit.
House Speaker Tim Jones said his staff had an email from the Revenue Department to legislative researchers suggesting the wording to which Nixon now objects.
“The governor really jumped the shark hard on this one,” said Jones, R-Eureka. “It’s pretty much his fault.”
But the Department of Revenue said Thursday that the wording it provided to legislative researchers would have protected the sales tax exemption.
Kraus, Jones and other bill backers suggested the governor should sign the bill into law and allow legislators to fix the error later – either in a September special session or during their 2014 regular session. They said there’s no need for immediate concern, because the changes to the prescription drug taxes wouldn’t take effect until 2015.
The legislation was a top priority this year for Republican lawmakers, who hold a supermajority in both the House and Senate.

Missouri Lawmakers Lobby for ‘Border War’ Tax Cut On The Border
May 21, 2013

A trio of Republican lawmakers, including St.Sen. Eric Schmitt from St. Louis County, campaigned in Kansas City Tuesday for the 2013 Missouri tax cut bill.
Schmitt met with members of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce at midday.
One of the Kansas City Chamber’s legislative priorities this year was finding ways to compete with the tax cuts and incentives the state of Kansas has used to attract Missouri companies to cross the state line.
Schmitt repeated his claim that while Kansas was first to cut taxes on corporations, small business and its income tax rates–Kansas wasn’t the first to think of it.
“We’ve been working on this before Kansas did,,” he told KMBC 9 News, “but this year, we actually got it done.”
Missouri lawmakers passed a measure calling for a drop in the corporate income tax to be phased in over several years; a tax cut for smaller companies–also to be phased in.
The measure also includes a cut in the Missouri income tax rate from 6% to 5.3%. It is the first such income tax cut in Missouri in 90 years..
Schmitt was hosted by Lee’s Summit Republican Senator Will Kraus. Some of the elements pushed in Schmitt’s bill were combined into Kraus’ version.
Clay County St. Rep. T.J Berry was the bill’s original House sponsor.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has not said if he’ll sign the bill or not. Nixon recently said he was worried about an estimated 800 million the bill coust cost the state because of the cuts.
Krause, Schmitt and Berry claim the Nixon number is wrong, that it’s too high. They claim it’s more in the range of $400-$700 million.
Kraus also countered by saying over a decade, the state would get a billion dollars more in money from a strong economy through the tax cuts.
“To bring in an additional one billion dollars over a 10 year period, to cut 700-800 million, i think is a responsible way to do tax policy in Missouri,” said Kraus.
In addtion to cutting taxes, Kansas offers incentives to Missouri companies to move across the state line.
One company, Central States Capital Markets, moved five miles to relocate in Kansas.
The firm, an investment company, had been on the western edge of Kansas City’s County Club plaza.
Dan Stepp, an executive with the firm, said it was the Kansas financial incentives, more than that tax rates, that helped the company to decided to relocate.
He also said the Kansas City suburban location in Prairie Village, Kansas, was easier to get to for many of the firm’s customers.