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Nixon Continues Anti-HB 253 Campaign, Jones Cites Scare Tactics

Nixon on HB 253 at Lawrence Drug
This summer, Gov. Nixon made more than two dozen stops to expresses his opposition to HB 253, which contributed to his withholding of $400 million from the 2014 Budget/Credit: Scott Harvey

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon continues his attack against HB 253, a measure he vetoed in June. As KSMU’s Scott Harvey reports, visits Tuesday to Springfield and Eldon come ahead of a September veto session which could see his decision overturned by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The bill, which gradually reduces the tax rates for individuals and corporations, will eliminate the current sales tax exemption on prescription drugs, Nixon says. And while the Governor understands that the provision may have been an accident, he does not plan to call a special session to correct the error.

“Why should Missourians have to pay to send legislators back to work overtime for a mistake, when all they have to do is not override me, and then we can worry about that next January?”

Nixon added that the most efficient way to guarantee the avoidance of a $200 million tax increase on prescription drugs is for lawmakers to sustain his veto. He also reiterated his distrust of claims that should the bill become law; the General Assembly will then fix the error.

Since 1979, Missouri has exempted prescription drugs from state sales tax. According to Nixon, if HB 253 becomes law, Springfield citizens would pay a new tax of nearly 11 percent of various medicines, and others would see that cost shift into higher insurance and health care rates.

The prescription drug exemption is one of many arguments Nixon has made against the bill. On Monday, his office released a breakdown of school district funding levels if the bill becomes law, which includes two scenarios. The figures show that impacts from both the General Assembly’s fiscal note and passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act will result in millions less for education.

In response to the figures, House Speaker Tim Jones said in a statement, “Missourians need to be aware that they can benefit from a reduced tax burden without in any way jeopardizing the record levels of funding we continue to provide to our system of education.”

He added that the Governor is using scare tactics in an attempt to prevent the veto override.

When asked about Jones’ comments Tuesday, Nixon said that “sometimes the truth is scary.” He used Springfield Public Schools as an example, saying that based on the two scenarios, should HB 253 become law; once fully implemented the district will lose between $4.4 million and $7.7 million a year.

The House Speaker also called Nixon’s withholding of $400 million from the current budget “shameful.”

“The State is experiencing explosive growth, so for the Governor to withhold anything is overstepping his constitutional authority.”

Nixon says there was no joy in implementing those restrictions.

“I look forward, if this veto is sustained, to getting these dollars out to the educational institutions, law enforcement and others, that so effectively need em,” Nixon say.

In a recent survey by the Associated Press, it appears Republicans will have to stick together to override the Governor’s veto of HB 253. The override requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers, which both House and Senate Republicans possess. But two of the three Democrats who voted for the legislation in May tell the AP they will not vote to override the veto.