JIM SALTER, Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two governors were in the St. Louis area Thursday offering widely different opinions on a Missouri bill to cut income taxes.
Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon spoke at the Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments in Richmond Heights, calling House Bill 253 a “reckless experiment” that would cause deep cuts in services for children with disabilities and threaten economic progress in the Show-Me State.
Meanwhile, Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke at a private gathering in Clayton hosted by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, and was scheduled to appear later in the day at a rally in Chesterfield. In an interview with KMOX Radio he described Missouri’s tax policy as “onerous,” its economic climate as “not particularly helpful to businesses,” and its legal system as allowing “too many frivolous lawsuits.”
At the center of everything is Nixon’s veto of House Bill 253. The legislation would gradually reduce Missouri’s corporate income tax rate nearly in half and lower the top tax rate for individuals from 6 percent to 5.5 percent over the next decade, so long as state revenues continue to rise by at least $100 million annually. It also would phase in a 50 percent tax deduction for business income reported on individual tax returns.
Lawmakers convene Sept. 11 to consider an override.
While Perry and other conservatives believe the tax cuts would spur the economy, Nixon and his supporters say it would do the opposite and cause cuts to education and other crucial state services.
Perry, who is weighing a 2016 presidential run, has drawn considerable attention in recent days for advertisements running in Missouri paid for by TexasOne, a public-private marketing partnership, in which Perry criticizes Nixon’s veto while at the same time promoting Texas as a better place to do business.
Nixon, speaking to about 100 people at the Delta Gamma Center, noted the potential impact of the tax cut on First Steps, a program to help infants and toddler with blindness and other developmental problems. He said the program would lose about $1.8 million, resulting in the loss of service for about 200 children, “just so lawyers and lobbyists can get a tax break.”
Much of the marketing campaign to convince lawmakers to override Nixon’s veto is paid for by St. Louis businessman Rex Sinquefield, who has contributed nearly $2.4 million to various groups supporting the override.
“One reckless experiment cooked up by a few special interests, bankrolled by one very wealthy individual threatens all the progress we’ve made and could make to help children with developmental challenges,” Nixon said.
Earlier Thursday, Nixon appeared at the groundbreaking for a road improvement that he said would facilitate a $3 million expansion at Toyota Bodine’s auto parts manufacturing plant in Troy, about 50 miles northwest of St. Louis. Nixon said the expansion could add 35 jobs. The state Department of Economic Development said it is providing a $350,000 grant for the project.
Nixon said the Missouri measure has “unintended consequences” such as imposing sales taxes on prescription drugs and textbooks.
“You take this fiscal experiment their running and take $850 million of general revenue out of this budget and imperil our triple-A credit rating, it is not the way to move the Show-Me State forward,” Nixon said.
AP reporter David Lieb in Jefferson City, Mo., contributed to this report.
Missouri lawmakers are to convene Sept. 11 to decide whether to override Nixon’s vetoes.