February 9, 2016

Democrats rail on proposal of new state office building (VIDEO)

The Governor says the priorities of legislative Republican leadership are “out of whack.”

Governor Jay Nixon

Governor Jay Nixon

Governor Jay Nixon (D) is critical of the state legislature’s approval of proposals to cut individual and corporate income taxes and repeal a tax break for low-income seniors in rental housing, particularly in light of something it included in a supplemental spending bill, HB19.

“This is a legislature that decided to add to its budget $38 million to build a state office building for bureaucrats that I didn’t ask for.”

The Governor refers to 38-million dollars for a new office building to be built on the site of the old Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, presumably to house the Transportation Department and make room for state offices now housed in leased property. House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) says that would save the state money, perhaps enough to recoup its investment in 7 to 10 years.

That could also free up space in the current Transportation Department Building next to the Capitol for some staff and other offices now housed in the Capitol. Republican lawmakers say that means more room for legislators’ offices and staff and an opportunity to make the Capitol more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Nixon says when considering the legislature sent him the rental tax credit repeal, as well as an operating budget that would make him choose between passing that repeal or cutting funding to a program that benefits developmentally disabled children, those arguments aren’t good enough.

“Let them tell that to the First Steps folks. Let them tell that to the parents who don’t know whether their disabled kid, starting July 1, is going to get the necessary services to live a normal life. Let them tell that to the senior citizen who they put a risk to have to pay more taxes next year than they paid this year even though they’re on fixed income. Let them make that argument about how they need a shiny new building to those Missourians.”

During debate on that supplemental spending bill, Representative Jeff Roorda (D-Barnhart) raised similar criticisms.

“I can’t imagine that we can do this with a straight face. Approve HB 19 when we’ve just eliminated this tax credit. By the way: between that $38 million on that new building, the $50 million we’re sinking in [The Capitol], more than enough to pay for that tax credit, which has worked great in this state since the ’70s.”

Majority Floor Leader John Diehl defended the proposal to cut that renters’ tax credit, one that he said most legislators would not have voted to create in the first place.

“One of the most difficult things we do is eliminate a government program. Government programs are pretty easy to create, they’re pretty tough to eliminate.”

Despite his criticisms, Nixon has not said whether he will veto any part of those bills.

Watch the Governor’s media conference below: