WHAT OTHERS SAY: Veto of dangerous tax bill in Missouri may be safe

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 | 12:26 p.m. CDT; updated 5:17 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In what would amount to a welcome reprieve from a bad idea, a top Missouri legislative leader indicated Tuesday that Republicans may abandon their attempt to overturn Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a seriously flawed tax bill.

House Speaker Tim Jones said he doubted he could muster enough Republican votes to gain the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

“Right now, I have to say, I don’t know that we have the numbers,” Jones said during a podcast produced jointly by the St. Louis Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio.

Elaborating later, Jones said he would likely need all 109 Republicans in the House to vote for the bill, as no Democrats are expected to break ranks. Some GOP members have expressed concerns about the legislation they passed in the spring.

The tax bill, House Bill 253, gives hefty income tax cuts to self-employed persons who pass their business income onto their personal tax returns, and smaller breaks to individual taxpayers. Those in the top personal bracket would see a greater benefit than middle-income taxpayers.

While the cuts are intended to be phased in, Nixon pointed out scenarios under which the state could begin losing money immediately, with disastrous impacts on schools and state services. The Democratic governor has noted a host of problems with the poorly written bill, including a glitch that could raise prices on prescription drugs for thousands of Missourians.

Fortunately, some Republicans appear willing to put aside party loyalty in favor of what is best for the state and its citizens. That’s significant, because Nixon’s veto has kicked off a furious backlash from some of the state’s interest groups, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

Supporters of the flawed bill have received an amazing $2.4 million from St. Louis financier Rex Sinquefield and have purchased ads on radio and TV in an attempt to influence legislators. A new political action committee, Grow Missouri, is the largest Sinquefield beneficiary with $1.3 million.

At this point, Sinquefield’s largesse does not appear to be money well spent. Unfortunately, though, risky income tax cuts are a favorite cause of many Missouri Republicans and the interest groups to which they maintain allegiance. Even if House Bill 253 is put to rest, leaders must guard against more attempts to imperil the state’s future through unwise tax cuts.

Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.

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