April 24, 2014

House Republicans say Fulton project support not tied to tax cut bill’s fate

House Republican leaders say they remain committed to seeing the state mental hospital at Fulton replaced this year, no matter what happens with the tax cut proposal they sent to Governor Jay Nixon (D) last week.

House Majority Floor Leader John Diehl, Jr.

House Majority Floor Leader John Diehl, Jr.

A gathering of those with an interest in the future of the Fulton hospital heard from two House Republicans on Tuesday. That gathering included the Democratic candidate for the House seat that includes Fulton, former representative Gracia Backer.

Backer says she had been told, “that the legislature would threaten to veto the Fulton State Hospital moneys or legislation if the governor vetoed SB 509.”

House Majority Floor Leader John Diehl (R-Town and Country) has heard the same thing, and told the crowd it isn’t true.

“Representative [Jeanie] Riddle and I are here to reconfirm our commitment to this facility, to reconfirm out commitment to get the funding done for the facility this year,” said Diehl.

Diehl thinks Governor Nixon is trying to tie the two issues in an effort to garner support for a veto of the tax cut bill. He says there is evidence that opponents of the tax cut are looking for drum up fears in a phone conference last week.

“The notes of that call say that legislators are saying that K-12 [education funding] will be okay so we need to ratchet up mental health on the chopping block as a way to try to scare people,” Diehl says.

He also says when Nixon criticized the legislature for voting to borrow money for “unnecessary” building projects, he was referring to Fulton.

Nixon asks on the contrary, “How was any of my comments ever not clear that the primary thing that we need to do as far as capital this year is to rebuild the Fulton State Hospital?”

Nixon says he was referring to a larger bonding proposal that would pay for other improvement and maintenance projects, some of which he says are already underway. He says he continues to support advancing that project this year.

Representative Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane) echoes the arguments of several who say the fate of the tax cut proposal and of the Fulton project should not be connected.

“It shouldn’t be because we can do both,” says Riddle. “There’s not an either/or in this process.”

Three proposals are moving in the legislature to pay for a new mental hospital at Fulton. The Senate Appropriations Committee this week adopted the plan proposed by Governor Nixon to pay for the hospital with bonds to be paid off over 25 years. A House plan would also use bonds but would pay them off over 5 years. Another bill that has passed the Senate would let the state raise the cap on the amount of bonds it can sell to $600-million. An accompanying resolution would use $200-million of that for Fulton State Hospital.

Impeachment petition charges Nixon recognizes gay marriage (AUDIO)

Impeachment proceedings have been started against Governor Nixon who has told the revenue department to let same-sex married couples file joint income tax returns

Parkville Representative Nick Marshall says Nixon should be thrown out of office because his executive order violates Missouri’s constitution and laws that define marriage as being between one man and one woman. He says Nixon has violated his oath to faithfully execute state laws

Nixon says Missouri’s income tax law is tied to IRS policies which allow same-sex couples to file jointly.

But Representative Mike Colona tells Marshall he sees nothing in the executive order that recognizes same sex marriages.  Some other Representatives suggest Marshall is premature because a lawsuit challenging the legality of the order remains unresolved.

Three impeachment resolutions have been filed by three Republicans. each cites a different reason.   Another hearing will be held next week.

AUDIO: hearing

Nixon impeachment proceedings begin (AUDIO)

The first impeachment resolutions calling for Governor Nixon’s ouster from office have gone  before a House committee.  Ash Grove Representative Mike Moon charges Nixon has willfully neglected his duties by delaying special elections to fill vacancies in the House and in the Senate.

Moon says Nixon’s refusal to call special elections to fill legislative vacancies is a willful neglect of duty–an impeachable offense.

He says the failure to call the elections has left 285,000 Missourians without representation in this year’s legislative session.

Nixon has called the elections for August 5th.

Moon says the Governor has called the impeachment resolutions “stunts.”   But he says,  “I  guarantee you I’m no Evel Knievel,” referring to the famous motorcycle stunt rider.

Impeachment involves the filing of charges by the House of Representatives.  The Senate is to pick seven noted judges to hear the charges and five of the seven judges must vote to throw out the office- holder.

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Nixon sets stage for tax bill veto; legislators plan override strategy (AUDIO)

Governor Nixon says the tax cut bill sent him by the legislature contains an obviously fatal flaw that will lead him to veto it.  State legislators who say Nixon is misreading the bill and is using scare tactics are weighing what they should do.

 Nixon says lawmakers might have intended to lower the income tax at the top level.  But what they did to is eliminate state income taxes on incomes of more than $8,000.   He maintains the wording is clear. “Senate Bill 509 says that once this legislation is fully phased in, the top bracket ‘shall be eliminated,’” he says. “The result of this provision is to wipe out 97% of all individual income tax collections in the state of Missouri.”                   

He says the bill would eliminate almost two-thirds of the state’s general revenue, forcing prisons and mental hospitals to close and end state aid to schools.  

Some legislative leaders are accusing him of intentionally misreading the bill.  

A retired supreme court judge and a nationally-recognized economist who has written the textbook on tax law differ on what the bill says, leading Senate floor leader Ron Richard trying to plot a course. “We got one learned man who says it’s not an issue; one learned man who says it is. So what do you do?  You take your best shot and try to deal with what you think is your best interest,” he says.

Richard says the senate will do what it has to do, neaing an override attempt is likely.

AUDIO: Nixon news conference 18:21

AUDIO: Richard & Dempsey 5:40

Nixon, GOP square off on possible tax cut bill flaw (AUDIO)

 The lines have been drawn between the Governor and Republican legislators on the tax cut bill Governor Nixon is likely to veto.

Nixon’s chief counsel, Ted Ardini, says the bill eliminates the top income

bracket–which would eliminate about two-thirds of state government’s income, arguing, “Once you eliminate the top tax bracket, which is ‘over $9,000,’ the top tax bracket becomes ‘over $8,000 but not over $9,000.’ As a result, if your Missouri taxable income is greater than $9,000, you have no tax bracket and hence you have no tax rate.”

House Republican leader John Diehl says that contention is “silliness,” and a “deception.” He says the bill orders the Director of Revenue to adjust the tax brackets as the top tax rate declines. “The bill…is self-effectuating. The director is to rewrite the tax tables to implement the purpose and the language of the bill.” he says.

The contentious part of the bill establishes the tax table with the percentages of various levels of taxable income. The wording causing the problem is in the last two brackets and in paragraph 2(4).

http://www.senate.mo.gov/14info/pdf-bill/tat/SB509.pdf

AUDIO: Ardini 13:51

AUDIO: Luebbering 24:15

AUDIO: Diehl 13:27