Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tax Cut Question

Governor Jay Nixon threw a lightning bolt into the tax cut debate yesterday. He claimed that the bill included a provision which would eliminate the income tax on all people making more than $9,000.  See the bill here.  The governor’s office produced an analysis from a Washington University professor buttressing his interpretation.  See it here.

Republican legislative leaders countered with their own analysis from former Missouri Supreme Court justice who said that the bill only eliminates the 6% rate, not the top bracket. 

Virginia Young does a nice job of reporting this issue here.

See Governor Nixon’s press conference here.   See Speaker Tim Jones’ press conference here.

The truth is that there’s pretty much no way a court would accept Nixon’s interpretation of the bill, and decimate the state’s tax revenue when it was clearly not the legislative intent of the bill.  However, Nixon’s contention probably serves its purpose: create enough fear and uncertainty to drive at least one legislator (looking at Rep. Jeff Roorda here) to back the governor’s veto.

On the Senate side there are no weak knees among Republicans that I’m aware of.  They are pointing to the 2017 implementation date as an extra precaution in the bill; they could do a fix next year if necessary.

Finally – I should also note that the override vote on the tax cut bill, and assuming it fails, the effort to past a new tax cut bill, will take time and energy away from other priorities.  Time will soon be a precious commodity in the building.

Tweet of the Day

Tim W. Jones ‏@SpeakerTimJones As #moleg tax cut bill worked its way along 4 months, @GovJayNixon's own agencies who fiscally scored bill (DOR, etc) found no fiscal flaws.

Blunt Weighs In on Tax Cut

Former Governor Matt Blunt made an unusual foray into state politics yesterday via Twitter, criticizing the tax cut plan.  A certain amount of exegesis is necessary given the compactness of the tweets being 140 characters, but he apparently feels Missouri should prioritize fully funding the foundation formula ahead of tax cuts.

‏@MattBlunt: “Formula should be fully funded. It was fully funded by admin. w/ consistent increases - including years w/ tax cuts. http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/politics/2014/04/22/governor-visits-ozark-propose-education-funding-plan/7932909/ …”

MSTA Forms Committee to Oppose Rex IP

The Committee In Support Of Public Educators was filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.  Its purpose is to oppose the teacher tenure ballot question.   It appears that Missouri State Teachers Association is behind the committee.  The treasurer is Melissa Lorts.

Teachgreat.org (see their website here) has been collecting signature for the ballot question (Shall The Missouri Constitution Be Amended To Require Teachers To Be Evaluated By A Standards Based Performance Evaluation System).  See teachgreat’s last quarterly report here.  In 2013 Rex Sinquefield contributed $850,000 to teachgreat.org.

PQ Or Not To?

With fifteen days remaining in the legislative session, we’re getting to the time where we might hear those two letters… PQ.  For new readers, PQ stands for “previous question.”  In the Senate, debate usually continues until no senators is left with questions, or words, to speak about a bill or one of its amendments.  But there is a provision in the rules to call the previous question, that is close debate and go to a vote on the matter at hand.

While the House regularly closes debate through a previous question, it is considered a “traumatic” event in the upper chamber where senators believe it is their right to speak without end, and where bipartisanship is prized more highly than in the lower chamber. 

The PQ hasn’t been used since the last day of session in 2007.  It’s used at the very end of session because all other efforts have been exhausted.  But also – because the expectation is that after use of the nuclear PQ, the minority party would react with hostility and “shut down” any further action.

So is there any talk of a PQ now?  The best I can tell is that there isn’t.  The use of a PQ looks very unlikely right now. 

This is important, especially for the right to work calculations.  There aren’t senators looking sideways at the House wondering if they might move right to work late and then seek a quick Senate PQ.  In fact if you look at the Republicans who have been sympathetic to labor in the Senate, take into account the vacancy in Senate 2, and consider other factors, the Senate might not be able to muster 18 votes for a PQ on right to work, even if they had time to work it.

Senate Debates Tax Credit Reform

The Senate took up HB 1501 as a vehicle to debate tax credit reform.   Sen. Jamilah Nasheed offered an amendment which would have let the historic and low-income housing tax credits stay at the status quo.  It failed 9-23 on a mostly party line vote.  Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal voted with 22 Republicans, and Sen. Kurt Schaefer voted with 8 Democrats.  The bill was laid over for future debate.

Scharnhorst on April Quarter

Concerning the April fundraising totals in which Shamed Dogan raised $8,288 to Rea Scharnhorst’s $100, Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst writes, “Equally important is where donations originate. Nearly ALL of Shamed's money came from where? Washington D.C. and Virginia. Seems the powers in Washington want to exert some control in the Missouri legislature. Just what a financially responsible government needs, influence from the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ crowd.”

Bits

Rep. Sue Meredith was appointed to the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Neither St. Louis nor Kansas City were on the National Democrats’ list (of fifteen) for possible convention sites in 2016.  See the CNN story here.  Kansas City is among six finalists for the Republican National convention.

Fundraising Calendar

Today’s fundraising events from Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Dig Safely Lunch - South lawn of Capitol – BBQ lunch served 11:00am - 1 pm.

Administrative Professionals Day – “remember to thank your LA or whomever keeps you on track with a nice lunch or gift.”

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Gate Way Group website:

William B. Moore added Mike Atcheson and Kenneth McClain.

Edward S Nagorsky added National Kitchen and Bath Association.

Michael T. White added Macquarie Bank of Australia.

$5K+ Contributions

Friends of Tom Schweich - $10,000 from Jonathan Kern.

Cynthia Baldwin Campaign - $15,000 from Cynthia Baldwin.

Citizens for Mason - $25,000 from Hulbert CPA LLC.

MO Pork PAC - $10,000 from NPPC.

Notes on Money: “Hulbert” is the husband of Pam Mason, the incumbent presiding commissioner of Clay County.  She is being challenged by former Rep. Jerry Nolte.

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Sen. Gina Walsh (57) and Rep. Jeff Pogue (33).