Nixon to KC Friday After Releasing Funds Following Veto Session
September 12, 2014

(AP) – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon freed $143 million of previously frozen education funding Thursday, after lawmakers sustained many of his vetoes of business tax breaks that Nixon had denounced as potential budget-busters.

The demise of the tax-break legislation allowed Nixon to claim at least a partial victory in an annual veto session that nonetheless shattered the Missouri record for the number of veto overrides.

The Republican-led Legislature, often aided by some of Nixon’s fellow Democrats, overrode 47 line-item budget vetoes and 10 other bills during a session that stretched from Wednesday into early Thursday.

The overrides included high-profile measures imposing a 72-hour waiting period for abortions and creating a special training program for teachers to carry guns in classrooms. Earlier this year, lawmakers also overrode Nixon’s veto of a bill cutting the state’s income tax rate for the first time in almost a century.

This year alone, lawmakers overrode nearly twice as many vetoes as had previously been overridden in the past 194 years, dating back to when Missouri was not yet even a state. The previous single-year high of 12 veto overrides occurred in 1833 when only a simple majority – instead of the current two-thirds vote – was required. All of those 1833 vetoes dealt with divorces for couples, something that is no longer a legislative duty.

Nixon did not focus on the historic nature of his veto overrides Thursday. He instead issued a press release touting his “successful effort to defeat a package of special interest tax breaks.”

Although lawmakers overrode two of Nixon tax-related vetoes, they sustained his vetoes of eight other tax measures, including ones that would have created sales tax breaks for electric companies, computer data centers, fitness clubs and restaurants.

Nixon had asserted the measures could have zapped hundreds of millions of dollars of state and local revenues and had cited that in June as one of the reasons he froze $846 million of spending and vetoed an additional $276 million of items from the budget that took effect July 1. An unforeseen decline in state revenues also played a significant role in the cuts.

Nixon had said at the time that he would release some of the money, starting with education funding, if lawmakers sustained his vetoes of the tax-break measures.

He followed through on that Thursday by releasing a $100 million funding increase for K-12 schools and a $43 million increase for public colleges and universities that he had previously frozen.

“I thank members of the General Assembly for taking a closer look at these (tax-break) bills, listening to their constituents and standing with their schools,” Nixon said in a written statement.

State budget director Linda Luebbering said Nixon could decide soon whether to release any of the additional $700 million of spending that he still has on hold. Nixon also could use his budget-balancing powers to freeze the $53 million of line-item vetoes that lawmakers overrode.

During debate, some lawmakers who supported the veto overrides said they expected Nixon to still block the spending.

“The governor’s going to withhold them all,” said Rep. Chris Kelly, a Democrat from Columbia.

2nd Bond Rating Firm Lowers Kansas’ Ranking
August 7, 2014

(AP) – A second leading bond-rating agency has downgraded its credit rating for Kansas and cited what it calls the state’s “structurally unbalanced budget” following massive personal income tax cuts.

Standard & Poor’s said Wednesday that it is dropping its rating for Kansas to AA from AA+. The agency also dropped its rating for bonds backed by state tax dollars.

Moody’s Investor Services downgraded its credit rating for Kansas in May.

S&P said in its report that Kansas will probably need to cut spending in the future to offset the income tax cuts. The reductions were enacted that the urging of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback to stimulate the economy.

Brownback noted that the state’s rating remains high and said rating agencies don’t like tax cuts.

Nixon Says More Cuts Could Be Coming as GOP Plots Override
June 12, 2014

(AP) — Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a package of special sales tax breaks Wednesday for Missouri power companies, restaurants, computer data centers and others, setting up another showdown with a Republican-led Legislature that already has triumphed over him on a historic income tax cut.

Nixon denounced the tax break measures as a “grab bag of generous giveaways” providing “secret sweetheart deals” and “special interest favors” that could bust a $425 million hole in the state budget while also jeopardizing hundreds of millions of dollars of local tax revenues.

While vetoing 10 bills, Nixon also said he would make “dramatic spending reductions” in the coming weeks to guard against the potential for lawmakers to enact the tax breaks by overriding his objections during their September session.

“My vetoes today are the first step toward restoring fiscal sanity to a budget process that has gone off the rails,” Nixon said at a Capitol news conference.

Some Republican lawmakers and business groups immediately vowed to pursue veto overrides. They disputed Nixon’s cost projections and defended the bills as a mixture of important business incentives and mere clarifications of existing tax policies that they contend have been misinterpreted by the courts and Nixon’s administration.

“By vetoing these bills, he has reemphasized the fact that the focus of his tax and spend administration is on growing the size of government rather than growing our economy,” said House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.

Republicans hold a two-thirds majority required for veto overrides in the Senate and are one seat short of that threshold in the House. But the GOP is likely to gain seats when special elections are held in August for four vacant House districts.

Missouri Lawmakers Reach Final Day, adjournment set for 6 Tonight
May 16, 2014

(AP) – Missouri lawmakers are beginning their final day of work with many of their top priorities already accomplished and with little chance of success on several other high-profile items.

The Missouri Constitution sets a 6 p.m. Friday deadline to pass legislation.

Still pending on the final day are bills authorizing a bond issuance for public buildings and attempting to nullify certain federal gun-control laws.

But lawmakers already have enacted an income tax cut and passed complex measures overhauling the state’s laws on criminal penalties and unaccredited school districts. The Republican-led Legislature also has already voted to place a transportation sales tax on the ballot and lengthen Missouri’s abortion waiting period.

Some Democratic priorities already have been written off, including a Medicaid expansion and the restoration of campaign contribution limits.

Nixon Says Without Tax Credit Reform Tax Cuts Are “Nonstarter”
March 27, 2014

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says the proposed tax cut now being considered by the Missouri legislature may be a “nonstarter”.
Nixon issued a statement Thursday saying he’s not interested in a tax cut package unless there are reforms to the state’s tax credits system.
“There is overwhelming evidence and bipartisan consensus on the need to rein in wasteful tax credit expenditures,” Nixon said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Republican State Auditor Tom Schweich was also critical of some tax credit programs.
A scaled down tax cut package was approved by the State Senate earlier this week. That was sponsored by lee’s Summit republican Will Kraus.
“Until the General Assembly takes action to protect Missouri taxpayers and reform this out of control spending,” Nixon said, “ discussion of tax cuts is a nonstarter”.