Override of tax-cut veto would be appropriate

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday vetoed an income-tax cut put forth by the Republican-led Legislature.

Nixon said the measure could devastate funding for public schools and services. Education is a political topic that politicians from both sides of the aisle tend to use as leverage when they debate issues. Education is universally supported and valued.

Nixon went as far as to say the legislation would "irreparably harm public education" and other services.

It appears our governor is maximizing the rhetoric here to invigorate educators across the state to pressure lawmakers into not voting in favor of an override.

Republicans insist they can continue to spend more on schools.

The legislation, The Associated Press reported, would gradually reduce Missouri's top individual income-tax rate -- currently charged on all income over $9,000 -- from 6 percent to 5.5 percent. It also would phase in a new 25 percent deduction for business income reported on personal tax returns. According to AP, the incremental tax cuts would begin in 2017, but only if annual state revenue keeps rising by at least $150 million over their high mark from the previous three years. The legislation also would increase a tax deduction for low-income residents and make annual adjustments to Missouri's tax brackets based on inflation.

Last year Nixon vetoed a more expansive and complex version of the income tax cut. Republican support splintered as school officials applied pressure on their lawmakers.

Missouri is one of about a dozen states that passed income-tax cuts last year as revenue began rebounding from the recession. Several states, according to The Associated Press, already have cut income taxes this year.

The forecasting of the effect varies, and where you fall will depend on your political perspective. One economic report from the University of Missouri predicts the legislation will eventually reduce state revenue by $620 million annually. Certainly that's significant. Others are critical that wealthy business owners will receive a greater benefit than middle-class workers.

But those viewpoints tend to undervalue the macro effect of loosening up private funds for more investment and purchases, which conservatives believe will spur economic growth.

This bill was put forward by Missouri's House and Senate, where Republicans maintain strong majorities. The Democratic governor appears to be taking the easy route, blocking a tax cut measure and using scare- tactic rhetoric to spread fear about an override. It's much more difficult to cut spending than to increase it, and the Republicans are responding to their constituents. The bill comes with certain criteria so as to not cut too deeply. At the same time, several Republicans are showing support to put a transportation tax on the ballot for our deteriorating highway system, so it doesn't appear Republicans are taking a sloppy hatchet approach to government spending.

Both sides of this tax debate come with credible viewpoints. Republicans believe tax cuts will spur economic growth. Democrats believe cuts will be harmful to services and programs. But on this matter, the governor loses credibility with his falling-sky comments.

Nixon has vetoed the tax cut proposal, certainly within his power. But Republicans will be well within their rights and responsibility to override the veto. An override of a veto would be appropriate.