WHAT OTHERS SAY: Nixon's vetoes: Good for the state, not an economic roadblock

Monday, June 16, 2014 | 12:08 p.m. CDT

The spin surrounding Gov. Jay Nixon’s recent vetoes is positively dizzying.

Are the 10 vetoed tax bills budget-busting, sweetheart deals for special interests, as characterized by the Democratic governor?

Or are they economic development incentives for job-creating businesses and tax law clarifications, as Republicans and business groups maintain?

The truth may be found somewhere between the hyperbole, which sounds like the two sides are not even talking about the same proposals.

Consider these opposing assessments:

  •  “Rushed through with little debate in the final hours of the legislative session, these special breaks and exemptions for a handful of special interests are the result of a deeply flawed process and a fundamentally misguided approach to tax policy.” — Nixon.
  •  “These bills, which enjoyed bipartisan support, would have helped taxpayers by more clearly defining the exemptions that are currently on the books.” — Ray McCarty, president, Associated Industries of Missouri.
  •  “This veto preserves the ability of local elected and appointed officials throughout the state to continue to provide the level of service expected and demanded by Missouri residents.” — Dan Ross, executive director, Missouri Municipal League.
  •  “What we are seeing is a roadblock mentality. Throughout this past session, the governor refused to engage in the legislative process. Now, when he has the opportunity to sign bills that will help our economy, he has chosen instead to use his veto as an impediment to growth.” — Daniel P. Mehan, president, Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

On these proposals, we believe Nixon has the better argument.

Our view contrasts with the opinion we offered in May regarding a separate tax cut issue. In that case, we encouraged lawmakers to override the governor’s veto and pass an income tax cut for businesses and individuals.

We supported that tax cut because lawmakers had scrutinized it during two legislative sessions, refining the language, correcting flaws, decreasing its scope and including revenue safeguards.

We don’t believe the bills approved on the session’s final day received a similar vetting by lawmakers or the public. Affordability remains a real concern. The governor contends the measures will punch a $425 million hole in the state’s budget, as well as diminish revenues for local governments.

We call on the measures’ proponents, who already are preparing an override attempt, to explain the financial repercussions — not with hyperbole, but facts.

The proposals vetoed by the governor lack both transparency and urgency.

If these measures are in the best interests of Missourians, let’s subject them — like the earlier tax cut — to discussion, debate, refinement and correction before they are enacted.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.

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