Will the final flurry of legislative activity by Missouri Republicans result in a fate similar to the mythological Icarus?
Icarus, our readers may recall, was the Greek mythological figure who was able to fly using wings fashioned from feathers and wax. But the exhilaration produced hubris, and Icarus flew too close to the sun, which melted his wings. He plummeted into the sea and drowned.
Republican legislative majorities experienced a similar heady exhilaration during the session that ended May 16. They approved a priority tax cut and succeeded in overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.
The GOP also thwarted, for a second consecutive year, Nixon's proposed Medicaid expansion. Lawmakers approved a three-quarter cent transportation sales tax to appear on a future statewide ballot, as well as building bonds for a range of projects, some favored by Nixon.
Emboldened by their successes, Republicans on the session's last day passed eight bills, which Nixon characterized as "tax breaks to special interests, totaling up to $483 million in reduced revenue and throwing the budget severely out of balance."
Missourians now await which GOP priorities Nixon will metaphorically plunge into oblivion or jeopardy through withholdings or veto powers.
The governor said lawmakers "blew up" the budget. His budget chief, Linda Luebbering, referenced some building bonds when she said: "We haven't had a chance to look at it and, certainly, the governor hasn't had a chance to review it."
On a separate matter, Nixon on May 20 announced an additional $35 million in spending cuts for education. Although he attributed those cuts to declining revenues from lottery sales and casinos taxes, the action illustrates — again — that Nixon will act decisively to fulfill his constitutional mandate to balance the budget.
Although we anticipate other cuts — including a "look at" building bonds — we are encouraged by Nixon's stated commitment to protect bond money for a new Fulton State Hospital, a project we support.
Replacing the antiquated, and dangerous, mental health facility, Nixon said, is "a priority I've laid out for a number of years, and I'm appreciative of the legislature for coming up with the method that I outlined. ..."
What the governor did not appreciate was the octet of tax cuts approved on the final day, when GOP lawmakers may have over-reached.
Flying too high, as Icarus learned, may have consequences.
Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.