Talk about a possible veto override of House Bill 253 has stirred educators statewide, as this so-called "tax cut bill" will do a lot more "cutting" than the name suggests.
"It's not good for St. James," said St. James School District Superintendent Joy Tucker. "It will hurt us to the tune of about $1.1 million over two years, and anything that is going to take that much out of a $17 million or so budget can't be good."
According to a recent press release from Gov. Jay Nixon's office, an analysis from the Missouri State Teachers Association, the Missouri National Education Association, and AFT-Missouri shows that cuts resulting from HB 253 to public school budgets "would be the equivalent of eliminating between 5,438 and 9,411 teachers."
"Forcing schools to lay off teachers and increase class sizes just so lawyers and lobbyists can get a tax cut will not move our state forward," Nixon stated in the release. "That is why a growing coalition of Missourians in every corner of the state – including local businesses, chambers of commerce and lawmakers who initially supported this bill – are speaking out in support of public education and against House Bill 253."
HB 253 is an act "to repeal section 143.071, RSMo., and to enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to the taxation of business income," according to the bill summary listed on the Missouri House of Representative’s website.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. T.J. Berry and co-sponsored by House Speaker Tim Jones.
Scott Holste, Nixon's press secretary, said an override of the veto would require a two-thirds vote from each chamber – with 109 votes from the House being "the key number."
Along with public education cuts, the bill would raise taxes on prescription drugs.
According to an Aug. 27 news report from The Quincy (Ill.) Journal, Jones said "the tax cut bill needs to be reviewed."
"...The proposed bill is a measure approach. This is a Show-Me-State approach. It's a step down. It's based on triggers where the tax cuts will not go into place unless the revenues flow into the state," said Jones, who asserts that Nixon has already withheld millions from schools and disability services.
"Nixon said, 'If you don't get on board with me, in opposing an override of my veto, then I'm not going to give you your money,'" Jones said in the report. "He's (Nixon) taken hostages instead of just discussing the issue."
Holste said Tuesday morning that Nixon continues to make his case.
"The governor has been pretty clear about why he vetoed this bill," Holste said.
In addition to the financial woes, Standard & Poor's, Fitch and Moody's, show that the state's AAA credit rating could be affected by HB 253, according to the governor's press release. A downgrade would increase the interest on state and local bond issues.
Page 2 of 2 - Tucker, who addressed the issues surrounding HB 253 in a recent column, wants the community to understand that a veto override will not go unnoticed. "I think it will benefit the wealthy, but all the schools in this area will be hurt," she said. "When you start cutting people, you can't help but hurt our students. And if we're not here for them, what are we here for?"
The General Assembly is scheduled to resume on Sept. 11.