ST. LOUIS — The governor’s office released a statement Monday afternoon that included a multiple-page document listing the estimated financial scenarios for every school district if House Bill 253, the tax cut bill, was overridden.
The second and third columns show an example of the potential cost if HB 253 — and the $692 million fiscal note — were to be implemented. The fourth and fifth columns show funding levels if the Federal Marketplace Fairness Act becomes law, which the statement says could increase the cost of HB 253 to $1.2 billion.
“These numbers demonstrate that, even under the General Assembly’s own assumptions, House Bill 253 would drain hundreds of millions of dollars away from schools in every corner of our state,” said Gov. Jay Nixon. “At a time when quality schools and a skilled workforce are more important than ever to competing in the global economy, this reckless fiscal experiment would undermine permanently Missouri’s ability to support public education and other vital services. As these numbers make clear, lawmakers can either support House Bill 253 or they can support public education, but they can’t do both.”
The HB 253 override effort has proven to be very vocal and financially stable during the past few weeks, accumulating almost $2 million during the last two weeks alone for future advertising campaigns leading up to September’s veto session.
At least one Republican representative, Nate Walker, R-Kirksville, has voiced concerns about voting for the bill because of its financial impact on education. Walker told The Missouri Times Monday afternoon that there wasn’t much more to share other about his thoughts on HB 253 other than what he has already said.
“Every representative will have to make what’s best for their district,” he said. “They were elected to their district and they know their district as well as everybody.”
Rep. T.J. Berry, R-Kearney, who sponsored HB 253, said he ultimately thinks the information released by the governor’s administration is a scare tactic.
“I have a problem understanding how a bill that is fiscally positive the first year would cost half of the total amount that the governor said it would cost over a minimum 10-year period,” Berry said.
On the subject of the Federal Marketplace Fairness Act and its potential impact, Berry said the governor is going off of a hypothesis that the federal government will pass the bill right away, using what Berry called “the worst case spin.”
“If I had to rely on the federal government to pass something, I think we would all be in trouble,” Berry said. “It could happen this year, next year or never. I don’t operate of maybes.”
The governor’s statement said the document was being released at the request of the Missouri Association of School Administrators.
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.