Recently, the Missouri Times interviewed House Republican Majority Floor Leader John Diehl about SB509 and the ensuing battle between the legislature and Governor Jay Nixon over this historic tax cut legislation.
TMT: Republican leadership in both chambers identified cutting taxes as a priority for this session and last week you were finally able to get SB509 to the Governor’s desk. Was SB509 what you envisioned as the final bill making it to the Governor?
Diehl: I don’t know that anybody anticipated everything that ended up being a part of SB 509, but the most important part was the fact that there was a lot of input and debate on the issue and what ultimately passed was a product that a number of people were involved in. The bill is simple. It is easy to understand and it provides broad based tax relief to small business in this state
TMT: A lot of times legislation isn’t passed until the last week of session, but you all were able to pass SB509 with nearly a month left. Was that your plan or just happen that way because it was a priority?
Diehl: I am a firm believer in always having a plan, but we were especially excited to be able to get something to the Governor and force him to make a decision on it before the end of session. In the past Gov. Nixon has operated like an armchair quarterback and stayed out of the entire process only to weigh-in after the fact. If he decides to veto it we’ll have an opportunity to override it or present other options for later in the fall .
TMT: What do you mean other options for later in the fall?
Diehl: I mean this issue isn’t going away. I’ll leave it at that.
TMT: Gov. Nixon has already indicated that he will veto SB509 and showed he is willing to campaign aggressively against tax cuts. How do you plan on handling that?
Diehl: First of all, what has happened in the past is the past. This new proposal is something that our Republican caucuses are united behind and I think the tactics Governor Nixon used last time were something that allowed him to win the day, but not the issue. There were a lot of organizations that told us they felt bullied by the Governor and his use of withholds to hold hostage funding for education and for our most vulnerable citizens. These type of actions prompted the legislature to try and address this issue earlier in the session so the window to bully outside groups is smaller.
What I think we are going to see out of the Governor on this effort will be much like the fear tactics he used last time, but he’s turned himself into Chicken Little. We’ll hear “oh wait the sky is falling – it’ll cost too much,” or “oh wait, the sky is falling, it’ll decimate education” or “oh wait, it just isn’t fair and there is a Fatal Flaw in the bill that we just discovered.” The simple truth is that under this bill, state revenues will have to grow before we reduce taxes and that education has seen and will continue to see record amounts of funding. Also, virtually every Missouri small business will benefit and that will create jobs for our children when they leave the education system. Hopefully our children will not have to go to other states for opportunities as happens all too often now.
TMT: You’re obviously pretty passionate about this issue, do you have any predictions about the outcome?
Diehl: Well, like I said, the easiest thing to predict are the scare tactics Gov. Nixon will try to make about what this bill does and, if the past is any predictor, he will get pretty creative and outlandish. However, at the end of the day, my prediction is that the People of Missouri will be the winners. Our Republican majorities firmly believe that the people of this state know how to spend their money better than government does every day of the week, and when we return money to them, we are controlling our own spending and limiting the size of government. Hopefully, we can get this done sooner rather later…but it will get done