Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday issued his most important veto of 2013. In the process, he became a real leader for Kansas City and the state.
You might even call him a hero.
At a morning press conference in Kansas City, Nixon said he had rejected House Bill 253, approved by the Republican-dominated General Assembly in the recent session. It would have slashed business taxes and income taxes for individuals and corporations over the next 10 years.
Added up, these cuts would have cost the state $700 million a year when phased in.
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Notice something? Yeah, this is Missouri, which already is near the bottom of the pack when it comes to financing the most important initiatives of state government — such as K-12 education, higher education and better roads.
Now imagine this state with $700 million less in revenue to provide basic services to taxpayers.
In his Wednesday statement, Nixon didn’t mince words about the bill. He called it an “ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible statement.” There’s a lot more, and the statement is worth reading.
But this much is clear for now: Kansas City had a lot riding on Nixon’s decision, too.
The state’s largest city is trying to attract entrepreneurs and other businesses to the middle of the country. But if Missouri had continued its glide path to becoming more like Arkansas and Mississippi, that would not have created a good environment for business leaders to bring in their employees and families to live in Kansas City.
In addition, Kansas City already has gone too far in handing out tax breaks to corporations, as part of its economic development border war with Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas.
HB 253 was a lame re-election ploy by GOP lawmakers in Missouri to imitate Kansas, which last year and this year also cut income taxes.
But lawmakers in that state just days ago had to approve $777 million in tax increases to cover the revenue shortfalls that are projected to hit Kansas when the income tax reductions start phasing in.
The GOP-controlled Legislature did that by hiking the sales tax, which is more onerous on low- and middle-income families, while the income tax cuts — both in Kansas and in Missouri — will favor the wealthy.
But Missouri doesn’t even have a sales tax increase on the table to pull out in 2014 to cover the revenue reductions caused by HB 253.
Nixon’s veto of the bill was proper, and the General Assembly ought to uphold his action. That would be good news for Missouri — and for Kansas City.