JEFFERSON CITY - The governor revealed his terms for negotiating legislation with a Republican senator to agree on a tax cut bill, similar to the one he vetoed over the summer.
Gov. Jay Nixon told the media at a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 13, he will work with Sen. Will Kraus, R- Lee's Summit, to generate a tax cut bill that works for both sides of the aisle. Legislative staff estimate that Kraus's bill would cost the state more than $900 million per year when fully implemented.
In order for Nixon to sign off an a bill, he said it must cut individual income taxes for working Missourians and neglect to provide ill conceived handouts for wealthy corporations. He said he would only agree to this type of bill after Missouri's K-12 Foundation Formula is fully funded and significant savings are generated from reforming the more costly tax programs.
"If a bill makes it to my desk that violates those principles I will not hesitate to veto it," Nixon said.
Nixon said he will continue to work with the senator to ensure the legislation proposed is not altered to the point that it compromises any of those principles. He reiterated that he will not support anything that takes money out of the classrooms, despite the support it may gain in the legislature.
Last year, Nixon vetoed a similar tax-cut bill after rallying opposition among education leaders with warnings of deep cuts in education if the tax-cut plan went into effect.
When this year's version of the measure came before the Senate, one member suggested including a requirement stating before the tax cut bill took effect, the legislature would be required to fully fund the program that allocates state funds to local public schools.
The School Foundation Formula includes a provision requiring annual funding increases to ease per-student spending differences among Missouri's school districts.
However, the state's economic downturn prevented lawmakers from meeting that funding-increase requirement.
The state Education Department reports the program is now more than $500 million below full funding.
The tax-cut bill pending before Senate would phase in a one-percentage point cut in the state's income tax rate for most Missourians from 6 percent of taxable income to 5 percent. Full phase in would take at least 10 years, with a requirement for significant tax-collection growth in one of the three prior years before an income tax reduction.
Nixon spoke to reporters as part of the annual legislative day sponsored by the Missouri Press Association and The Associated Press.
At a news conference in the governor's mansion following the luncheon with reporters from across the state, Nixon repeated his support of marriage rights for same-sex couples.
"I think if people want to get married they should be able to get married," Nixon said, adding that the decision on that would be left up to Missouri voters.
Just two days earlier, the Missouri branch of the ACLU filed suit challenging the voter-approved provision in Missouri's Constitution prohibiting the state from recognizing marriages of couples of the same sex.
Nixon also went over his plan for rebuilding of the Fulton State Mental Hospital forward.
"Unfortunately this facility is crumbling, it's inadequate for the needs of its patients, it's dangerous for the staff that care for them and it's very expensive for tax payers," Nixon said.
In order to speed up the rebuilding of the hospital, Nixon said he wants to find funding through back bonds due to their past success with similar projects.