Tax breaks, budget key focuses of historic veto session
JEFFERSON CITY - Lawmakers from both parties meet Tuesday night in preparation for a historic veto session beginning Wednesday.
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a record number of items this year. He scrapped 33 bills outright and subjected more than 120 other provisions to line-item vetoes.
Last year, Missouri lawmakers overrode 10 of Nixon's vetoes, making Nixon the most overridden governor in modern state history.
It takes a two-thirds vote in both chambers to override a veto and, because of special elections this August, Republicans hold a veto-proof majority in both the House and the Senate.
A large portion of the vetoes centered on tax breaks and provisions in the Missouri budget.
Nixon vetoed bills that would have provided more than $700 million in tax breaks, saying they were giving breaks to special interest groups.
Rep, Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, disagrees.
"The biggest motivation behind at least half of these bills was really incompetence from the department of revenue," he said, "and at the end of the day that falls back on the governor, it's his department."
Still, Rowden acknowledges some of the sales tax legislation could use some work.
He is not the only Republican saying the bill is not good enough to be passed.
Rep. Jay Barnes, R- Jefferson City, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that eight of the vetoed bills have devastating draft errors which would cost the state revenue without promoting economic growth.
Why I'm a No on Almost All the Sales Tax Exemption Bills - http://t.co/fD5oPmHbdK— Jay Barnes (@jaybarnes5) September 5, 2014
One of the largest tax break bills would give sales tax-exempt status to machinery, electricity and other supplies at data storage centers. However Nixon considered the wording too broad.
Despite the supermajority in both chambers, some lawmakers are doubtful that any of the sales tax vetoes will be overridden.
Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said he believes only three of the sales tax vetoes have a chance to be overridden, and they would likely be the smallest three.
Rowden isn't even that optimistic.
"I'd be surprised at this point whether most, or any, of those sales tax bills are overridden," he said.
Nixon vetoed more than $250 million from the $26.4 billion budget using line item vetoes in areas such as education, transportation, public safety and corrections. He said such action was necessary to compensate for any tax break bills that were passed.
This week's veto session an important test of fiscal restraint. For govt to live within its means, my line-item budget vetoes must stand— Governor Jay Nixon (@GovJayNixon) September 7, 2014
Kelly said the record number of vetoes come from Nixon's constitutional responsibility to balance the budget.
With Republicans holding veto-proof majorities in both the House and the Senate, Republicans could override any veto if votes fall along party lines. This may be the case with highly partisan issues such as a gun bill, permitting teachers to carry concealed weapons and lengthening mandatory wait times for abortions.