ST. LOUIS — Gov. Jay Nixon traveled to Kansas City and St. Louis Monday to discuss concerns that were raised by three credit agencies about the impact of House Bill 253, the tax cut bill, on Missouri’s AAA credit rating.
Flanked by multiple Democrat state senators and representatives, Nixon explained that Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s released reports suggesting HB 253 could damage the state’s perfect credit rating.
The governor sent a letter to each member of the General Assembly that quotes the agencies’ concerns, including one from Fitch about potentially re-evaluating the credit rating if the bill is overridden.
This development with agencies is one of several issues involving HB 253 that Nixon has traveled around the state to discuss. These discussions and subsequent media have been the key competition in terms of awareness to the efforts of Grow Missouri’s more than $2 million advertising campaign determined to override Nixon’s veto.
“The fiscal risks of moving forward on this are real and dramatic,” Nixon told reporters Monday afternoon. “As I’ve said before, I’m going to get in a check-writing contest.”
Sen. Gina Walsh, D-North St. Louis County, said she puts her full support behind Nixon’s efforts, adding that the potential detriment to seniors with the unintended $200 million prescription sales tax hike is especially damaging to her district.
Additionally, Walsh, a former labor worker who still is active in St. Louis unions, said that from that labor and union perspective, the concern about this bill’s impact is “really scary.”
“Less money available, less money spent,” she said. “We have services in the state that we are supposed to support like roads to be a viable community. All of these things have to be paid for and all this bill does to me is pushing in on a lot of things we do in Jefferson City, pushing down on a lot of the municipalities to fund them.”
House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, has been an active voice against the governor’s efforts to sustain his veto during the past few months. Monday, Jones criticized Nixon for using “tax payer funds to fly around in his plane” while criticizing a bill that aims at “reducing [the] tax burden on all Missourians.”
“I would remind the governor of the credit agency report out during session where at least one issued a stern warning against increasing government spending on the state level in the realm of Medicaid expansion,” Jones said, referring to a report by Moody’s in February.
As to whether or not he thinks the bill could be overridden as of right now, Jones said he isn’t sure.
“If not overridden, we will move expeditiously in the beginning of next session to pass a bill to reduce the tax burden on other Missourians,” Jones said. “I renew my call for the governor to display some leadership on that point.”
During his press conference, Nixon expressed interest in working with the legislature next year to craft a bill that wouldn’t include the things the governor has been speaking out against. Jones said he would “welcome” the governor’s help on the issue in general as he thinks that HB 253 has been an example where Nixon has “led from behind or not at all.”