ST. LOUIS — Twitter hype began Tuesday afternoon after House Speaker Tim Jones made a comment on the St. Louis Beacon and KWMU Politically Speaking podcast that he might not bring up the much-discussed House Bill 253 for a veto override during September.
HB 253, the tax cut bill, has been the main subject of political discussion this interim as a coalition of groups supporting the veto override have collected more than $2 million — the majority coming from Rex Sinquefield — in an advertising campaign, while Gov. Jay Nixon has made several stops around the state expressing concerns about the impact HB 253 could have on education, prescription sales taxes and the state’s AAA credit rating.
“There’s no news here — it’s mathematics,” Jones told The Missouri Times Tuesday after the podcast aired. “We never had 109 votes on that bill. We didn’t when it was Senate Bill 26 and we didn’t when it was House Bill 253. Unless 108 of my colleagues tell me at summer caucus that they’re going to vote yes, why would I bring it up?”
Jones said he was amused by the hype on Twitter over what he said on the podcast about the override vote.
“We don’t bring bills up so it can fail,” Jones said, saying he would need approximately nine people to change his mind judging by what discussions have occurred since the final vote with some Republicans and Democrats on the fence about whether they could support an override effort.
On the final vote, 100 Republican and three Democrat representatives voted in favor of the bill. Since then, two of the three Democrats have said they don’t think they will vote for it again, with Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, still publicly saying he’s on the fence. At least one Republican, Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville, has expressed concerns about voting for the override because of the different withholdings the governor has announced to education, among other issues.
Jones said that like every other vetoed bill, HB 253 will be brought up during the summer caucus next week in St. Louis for further discussion.
About the Grow Missouri override coalition and accompanying $2 million (plus) advertising effort, Jones said, “I don’t support tax cuts because of Rex Sinquefield. I support tax cuts because I’m a Republican.”
In a statement to The Missouri Times from Nixon’s office, the governor said Jones’ comments indicate legislators are hearing from their constituents about the issues that have been raised about the bills.
“It’s become clear that many members did not have the opportunity to read or fully understand this bill’s many flawed provisions and unintended consequences — including its $200 million tax increase on prescription drugs and college textbooks,” Nixon said. “With Missouri adding nearly 13,000 jobs last month and our GDP continuing to grow, now is the time to build on this solid momentum.”
He added that he plans to continue communicating with lawmakers and stakeholders in hopes of sustaining the veto.
Rep. TJ Berry, R-Kearney, the bill’s sponsor, said he plans to keep working toward the override the veto.
“I plan to continue to work all summer on this issue,” Berry said. “It hasn’t been a relaxed summer like you would hope your summer would be, but it’s one of those deal where you hope it’s worth the effort.”
Berry said he understand that the Democrats who voted against the bill from the get go might not support it anymore, but said he believes and hopes the Republicans who voted against it will come back around.