Government
4:10 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Nixon Says Legislature-Approved Tax Breaks Decimate Local Control

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon tells the Eastern Jackson County Betterment Council tax cuts he vetoed could have a detrimental impact on local revenues.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon tells the Eastern Jackson County Betterment Council tax cuts he vetoed could have a detrimental impact on local revenues.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was in Blue Springs Friday asking local elected officials to oppose the tax breaks state lawmakers approved in the session's eleventh hour.

Nixon vetoed the cuts, which would have created sales tax exemptions for restaurants, dry cleaners and power companies, earlier this week. He says they weren't accounted for in the budget legislators sent him and would make it difficult for municipalities to raise the money they need through levy increases.

"On a state level, we maintain that low, stable tax base while allowing local communities to decide what their specific needs and how we're going to pay for them, but these special breaks passed by the General Assembly undermine those principles," Nixon told the Eastern Jackson County Betterment Council.

Nixon says cities often ask voters to approve tax increases to pay for services like more police officers or new parks. But he says these sort of tax breaks undermine those efforts in favor of special interests. A report prepared by Nixon's office and the Department of Revenue estimates the taxes will cost local governments more than $350 million statewide. Kansas City, Mo., could lose $25 million.

Another fiscal impact report, this one prepared by Legislative Oversight, painted a less drastic picture but still estimated local losses of more than $220 million if lawmakers override Nixon's veto in September.

Rep. Sheila Solon, R-Blue Springs, took issue with Nixon's characterization of the tax cuts as last-minute decisions not given careful consideration by legislatures. She says the amendments approved by the House had already been heard in the Senate and vice versa.

"The point I'm trying to make is they all had been vetted and had hearings," says Solon, adding that she felt some of the governor's numbers didn't track.

Independence Mayor Eileen Weir bristled when Rep. Donna Pfautsch, R-Harrisonville, asked for local leaders' help in checking Nixon's math.

"I don't have the staff to be looking up these numbers or the resources to do this under the city's own power," says Weir. "It doesn't matter what the numbers are. We'll still feel the financial impact."

Lawmakers can override Nixon's veto with a two-thirds vote, numbers Republicans have in the Senate but are one vote shy of in the House.