KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — Flanked with his budget staff, Gov. Jay Nixon visited Truman State University this evening to discuss House Bill 253 — the income tax legislation he has toured the state to discuss in hopes of sustaining his veto.
In a room of about 150 people, the governor touched on just about all of the subjects he has the last few weeks (and months) of his tour:
- – A $200 million prescription sales tax increase is bad.
- – A textbook tax increase is bad.
- – The fiscal damages to K-12 education would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars due to the degree of dependence of education on the General Revenue fund. “You can’t be for House Bill 253 and be for education. You just can’t,” Nixon said tonight — one of the many times he has made mention to the idea during his tour.
- -The fiscal damages to higher education would also be detrimental.
- – The findings of the administration shows the fiscal impact of the bill would be about $100 million more than the fiscal note from the legislature.
- – That citizens could collect on the previous three years’ worth of additional tax refunds under the new policy — which Budget Director Linda Luebbering said is capped at three years because of a state statute, but could have been more otherwise — further expounding on the damage to the state.
- – That if the Federal Marketplace Fairness Act is passed, the damage could be even more severe than projections indicate.
And there were others. Several others. And twice as many arguments as that if you count what comes each day from Nixon’s opponents.
For every argument, Missouri Republicans backing the bill provide responses, whether it be fixing the prescription sales tax increase during the 2014 session, that the Marketplace Fairness Act will “never” be passed by a Congress that struggles to pass a budget and that ultimately the tactics of the governor with concerns — or threats — toward education are “fear mongering” and shouldn’t be a motive for removing support because of a threat to remove hundreds of millions of dollars to public education.
Tonight, the governor said if the “attacks” keep on from his opponents, he hopes they will continue to be about him.
“I have broad shoulders,” he said. “If the best thing they can do is run ads saying bad things about me, they must not have a very good argument.”
Nixon spoke more freely than he has at recent events on this issue. Perhaps it was because of the town hall setting. Maybe it was because he is no stranger to Kirksville with this being one of several trips he has made since the beginning of the year, and at least his second trip in the past month. Or, it could have been because he was surrounded by people who agree with him on the issue.
Truman State President Troy Paino spoke in favor of sustaining the veto during his introduction of Nixon, as he said other presidents of the state’s public higher education institutions have done.
“From all indications, there’s just not a clear path to increase revenue through this bill,” Paino told The Missouri Times, stating that his biggest concern is funding for education as a whole, not just for higher education. “The likelihood of a decrease [in appropriations] is great. We’re just in a situation where we can’t afford that.”
Also present was the area’s state representative, Republican Nate Walker, who is one of the few conservative legislators to publicly express intentions of supporting the veto.
Additionally, four of the seven total audience members who asked questions during the Q&A portion were, essentially, staged. Administrators from the Kirksville, Moberly and Canton school districts asked questions about impacts to their areas and for, in general, more information about what could happen if HB 253 was made into law. Former Truman State and A.T. Still University president Jack Magruder did the same.
The citizens who spoke after the previously-planned questioners were of a broader range. One was about the outlook on the A+ Program, another about funding for autism education and support programs and a third dealt with other possible avenues for revenue growth.
There are supporters of the override effort in Kirksville based on last week’s Grow Missouri meeting held in town, but if they were at tonight’s discussion, they didn’t speak up.
Two weeks from tomorrow kicks off veto session, and members of the legislature have, whether intentionally or not, pledged to make this the big issue. Until then, Nixon and his adversaries and Grow Missouri and its subsidiaries continue their tours to push their messages.
“Don’t mess with the Show-Me State”
Nixon also used the time tonight in Kirksville to make some remarks about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent advertisement campaign promoting Missouri businesses to consider taking their work to Texas.
After initially saying he wouldn’t “go there,” he went.
Nixon said he would “welcome [Perry] with open arms” to Missouri before listing a few reasons why the Texas governor should reconsider his job-luring attempts. The governor did something similar via his Twitter account this past weekend.
And later, he snuck in a jab while explaining a stance on HB 253:
“We’re in Missouri, not Texas, so I can talk about complicated things without people getting blown away.”
Perry is set to speak Thursday evening in Chesterfield in conjuncture with a Grow Missouri event.
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.