It was a busy day for Gov. Jay Nixon, as his final year in office heads toward the halfway point.
He told reporters Tuesday that he signed seven more bills into law while vetoing eight others. Several of those approved and shot down are composed of tax breaks.
He specifically singled out three bills for criticism Tuesday: SB 641, HB 2030, and SB 1025.
Senate Bill 641, the largest of the three, would have allowed farmers who've received federal disaster payments dating back to 2014 to deduct them from their state income taxes. While legislative researchers told the Associated Press that the deduction would only cost $12 million, Nixon maintains that it would cost more than $50 million in revenue during Fiscal Year 2017.
House Bill 2030 would have created a 50 percent tax deduction for business owners who sell at least 30 percent of their companies to their employees in a stock ownership program (ESOP). Nixon said the bill would have cost Missouri more than $10 million in tax revenue without creating any new jobs. Supporters had argued it would expand the number of employee-owned businesses in Missouri and help prevent jobs from leaving the state.
Senate Bill 1025 would have created sales tax exemptions for several instructional classes, including yoga, gymnastics and marital arts.
Nixon, a Democrat, said those three pieces of legislation would have torn a $60 million hole in next year's state budget, which begins Friday.
"I have been very clear with members of the legislature about this, (and) I'm more than willing to sign tax cuts, as I have today, and as I have in the past, as long as they make good sense for Missouri," Nixon told reporters. "But any legislation that's going to further reduce the revenues we have to pay for things like schools, scholarships and public safety, has to meet a high bar ... these three measures fail to meet those standards."
A tax break he did sign into law Tuesday will benefit armed service members. Senate Bill 814 will give active duty military stationed in Missouri a 100 percent deduction on taxes earned from their military salaries.
"Members of the military who are stationed out of state can already deduct 100 percent of their earnings from (active duty) income," Nixon said, "so it's only fair to give the same benefit to our servicemen and women stationed here in Missouri."
Back to vetoes: Nixon also struck down legislation he said could have given agriculture and mining interests more representation on Missouri's Clean Water Commission at the expense of members of the public.
Language was added to House Bill 1713 near the end of the legislative session that would have limited members of the public serving on the commission to "no more than four," while "at least two" commission members had to come from the agriculture and mining industries. Technically, it would have allowed the commission to function with zero public members.
"The Clean Water Commission has responsibility for everybody's water, not just factories, not just farms, not just utilities, but the water we drink and the water we use," Nixon said. "When you take up all those slots, you end up having special interests represented on what should be a general interest board."
Other bills vetoed by Nixon Tuesday:
- Senate Bill 591 – modified provisions related to expert witnesses
- Senate Bill 847 – would have changed how medical expenses are handed in court
- Senate Bill 844 – would have changed current animal trespass law to remove liability from the owner of an animal if that owner was not negligent
- House Bill 1432 – would have required a hearing to be held within 60 days when a state employee is placed on administrative leave
Nixon also signed the following bills:
- House Bill 1435 – modifies current provisions regarding sales tax refund claims
- House Bill 1582 – allows businesses to file W-2 forms electronically.
- House Bill 1717 – requires public water systems to notify customers 90 days in advance before voting to add or remove fluoridation from water supplies
- House Bill 2381 – changes the law regarding property tax on mines
- Senate Bill 794 – creates a sales tax exemption for medical equipment and parts for such things as wheelchairs and hospital beds
- Senate Bill 823 – modifies state and local sales tax exemptions; includes creation of a tax exemption for Internet access and classifies bed & breakfast inns with six or fewer bedrooms as residential property as long as the owner also lives there
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport