Missouri Democratic Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a tax cut that was thankfully overturned by a Republican legislature Tuesday. The new top income rate is lowered to 5.5% plus there’s a new tax break for small-business owners. Mr. Nixon’s concern and his reasoning for the veto, cue the music, is to protect education and public services. What he really means is we need to protect the pensions and pay the unfunded liability of $12.5 billion. Missouri is one of the better funded plans, but let’s not pretend that this is about teaching kids how to read and write. The WSJ’s Review and Outlook covers it nicely here for you:
Mr. Nixon flogged the usual fear about cuts to education and public services, though the income tax cut marks the first in the state in nearly a century. The Governor ignored that Missouri’s constitution requires that 26% of state revenues go to education, that education spending is currently higher at 33% of revenue, and that Republican budgets have increased school spending every year since 2003. He also omitted that the Republican legislature built a safeguard into its tax cuts, which go into effect in 2017 only if state revenues increase by $150 million.
The Governor’s scare campaign worked last year, and the House fell 15 votes shy of a veto override. This time House Majority Leader John Diehl and Speaker Tim Jones kept their troops unified, and even peeled off one state Democrat (Rep. Keith English), mustering the 109 votes needed to put this new tax reform in effect. The Missouri Senate, with its Republican supermajority, had already voted on Monday to override.
Mr. Nixon is Governor in a state that is trending right, but he is governing like President Obama. Missouri lags its Midwest competitors in government reform and economic growth, and the Governor might offer a quiet thanks to the Republicans who broke the gridlock and let their state join the region’s pro-growth movement.
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