The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 29, 2013

Texas Gov. Perry stumps for override of veto of tax-cut bill

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — Texas Gov. Rick Perry visited Missouri on Thursday to back a campaign to override Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of an income tax cut bill pushed by Missouri Republicans.

“This is a fight worth fighting” the Texas Republican told hundreds of people gathered at a rally in the St. Louis suburb. “This veto override is about the future of this state, but it is up to you.”

Perry, who has made similar visits to states led by Democratic governors, told the bill’s supporters: “You can be a part of the great renaissance in America where states can lead the way.”

Perry was in Missouri on behalf of Grow Missouri, a coalition of business groups and conservative advocates funded in part by St. Louis billionaire Rex Sinquefield, a longtime advocate of reducing taxes. The group is pushing House Bill 253, legislation that would slash corporate taxes, while providing mild tax relief for most Missourians. Nixon has highlighted that the bill would also remove state tax exemptions for prescription drugs and college textbooks.

Perry said Nixon is telling “horror stories” about the potential impact about a tax cut and said Missourians should not “believe the fear tactics your governor is pushing.”

Perry’s visit came after a summer public relations blitz where Nixon put the bill’s supporters on the offensive by pulling support from state education leaders, a handful of local chambers of commerce, and a small but mighty group of legislative Republicans who have joined him in opposition.

The bill would require 109 votes for it to be overridden by the General Assembly — the exact number of votes Republicans currently have in their majority. At least five Republicans have said publicly they will oppose the bill, and without the support of legislative Democrats, an override seems unlikely. House Speaker Tim Jones has said he believes the entire Republican caucus would have to be on board for an override to be successful when lawmakers convene for a veto session on Sept. 11.

The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce has decided to stay out of the fight over the issue of House Bill 253, a spokeswoman said earlier this week. But Joplin schools Superintendent C.J. Huff has said he opposes the bill because of its potential impact on area schools — anywhere from $1.7 million to $3 million based on Nixon’s numbers.

“We try not to get involved in politics, but from our perspective, the end result could be a very negative result for our school district in terms of current and future revenues,” Huff said during a board meeting earlier this week.

That argument gained steam on Thursday, when Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster issued a legal opinion endorsing Nixon’s claim that the bill could be harmful to the state’s coffers because of a provision in the bill that allows for a three-year retroactive tax rebate.

“In the opinion of this office, the plain language of the new legislation suggests that if certain triggering events set forth in the statute occur, taxpayers may seek refund of taxes paid in the three preceding tax years,” he wrote. “If the General Assembly did not intend that taxpayers should get any benefit from the backward-looking change, why include that language?”

Koster, who has made clear his intention of running for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2016, has not taken a position on he bill as a whole.

Nixon was critical of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which supports the Grow Missouri group that was the host for Perry, and suggested instead of focusing on state-to-state battles over business to instead do so on the “world economy, making sure that people who walk on factory floors in the Joplin area are competing with people in Beijing and in Europe.”

“I think it is troubling the chamber would bring someone in who is running ads to say ‘hey — move your businesses to another state,” Nixon told the Globe on Wednesday. “But that comes with the territory. We’re making serious progress every day — I grow confident each day about the ability to sustain this veto. ”

Perry scoffed at the idea that he would “come to steal jobs to take back to Texas.” Perry said he was never offended when his neighboring governors make their way to Texas seeking more business opportunities, saying, “It makes me be more competitive.”

“By competing against each other, it makes us stronger,” he said. “Missouri can help lead that (conversation). The Legislature can send a message across the state that Missouri is back open for business.”

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