This week we've had several events unfold. First, I know many of you are concerned about the delay of tax refunds from the state. Also, I have some more information concerning the governor's vetoes.
About 260,000 Missourians are awaiting a tax refund from their April income tax filing. We have laws in place for a timely return of these funds, and this should be followed. The governor has said that the state treasury does not have the cash on hand to honor these refunds. However, late last week, Floor Majority Leader John Diehl (Town and Country) responded with a press release that I have reproduced in part below:
. . . Diehl said that, while revenues have not grown at the overly optimistic rate pushed by the governor, the state has the funds necessary to refund the more than $115 million still owed to Missouri taxpayers.
"Missourians in all parts of the state are frustrated in not having received a refund of their tax dollars in a timely fashion. Hardworking Missourians have paid their taxes on time but the governor has continued to delay payment of refunds. It is time to return these tax dollars that rightfully belong to the people. State budgeting should not be based on money the state does not have the right to retain . . . State budgeting is about making difficult decisions. If the governor is required to withhold money in order to meet state budgeting obligations, he should do so. We should not be withholding money from our citizens who, in many cases, rely upon tax refunds in order to make car payments, tuition payments for their children, or monthly rent or mortgage payments. I am calling on the governor to immediately make tax refunds available to those Missourians who are entitled to them."
Diehl also repeated his desire for the governor to work with the House and Senate to assist efforts to create low-tax, pro-growth initiatives. Diehl said that the state's economy and, more importantly, Missouri's small businesses and their employees would greatly benefit from many of the initiatives the governor has vetoed.
The last paragraph takes us back to the topic of last week's vetoes by the governor.
The Governor's Vetoes Revisited
As noted in last week's report, the governor has vetoed ten bills that affect taxing and tax collection. These bills are: SB 584, SB 612, SB 662, SB 693, SB 727, SB 829, SB 860, HB 1296, HB 1455, and HB 1865. The governor is projecting a loss of $776 million dollars to state and local revenues (however, the calculations resulting in these losses was not shared). He also criticized the manner in which these bills were amended. On June 12, the Southeast Missourian reported:
Nixon focused much of his criticism on the way the tax breaks were passed -- on the last day of the session, without being accounted for in the state budget and in some cases without a public hearing on the final version of the wording.
Representative Kathy Swan (Cape Girardeau) did some research concerning these amendments and came up with the following results:
Total Amendments -- 27
House amendments similar or identical to House bills -- 12
House amendments similar to multiple Senate bills -- 1
House amendments without corresponding House bills (mostly technical except the assessor correspondence amendment pertaining to St Louis County) -- 7
Senate amendments similar to House bills -- 5
Senate amendments without corresponding House bills -- 2
The seven bills concerning St. Louis County were administrative changes that do not impact taxes.
Again, the analysis of the executive branch is found wanting. The governor's broad generalizations are leveled on a process that has very much functioned within the framework of open debate. I will repeat my comment from last week:
More thoughtfulness is needed in these trying economic times. And I will add, it is time to refund owed money to the taxpayers of Missouri.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City and Missouri. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.