It was very frustrating to see the Governor’s veto sustained on such key topics as: income tax reduction (HB 253), firearms related issues (HB 436), employment laws (HB 611), and property rights (SB 265) when there is a super-majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate. None of these were bills that I drafted. In some of these bills I would have preferred different language. The bills were, however, within acceptable limits and some of their component parts were vital and necessary. The issues raised in opposition to the bills would have been easily addressable when the legislature reconvenes in January.
That being said, it is not my place to chastise or praise those representatives and senators who voted against an override on any bill. I know several had very strong opposition to provisions in some of the bills. Their votes and the representation of their districts are between themselves and their constituents to whom they are answerable. The appropriateness of a representative’s or senator’s votes ultimately rest with their constituents and it is they, not I, who will determine whether to reelect a legislator to continue to vote in the manner that they do. Some of our Republican legislators represent very liberal districts within the state and their constituents may well be happy with their veto sustaining votes.
Had SB 350, a bill that eliminated a portion of the Senior Citizens Property Tax Credit for the neediest seniors who rent, been brought up and passed by the Senate, I would have voted against it in the House as I did at every step during its initial passage. Seniors who find themselves in a financially critical situation and who no longer have the ability to own their own home still have to spend money for a place to live. It is in the form of rent instead of a mortgage and property tax. Part of the calculation of setting the cost of rent includes expenses such as property tax. This minimal credit for these seniors can mean a difference in the number and quality of meals they in a day. A “no” vote would have been consistent with my beliefs, the positions I stated while seeking office, and, I firmly believe, in line with the opinion of the vast majority of my constituents.
Also, I have been told that the regular session is about policy and the veto session is about politics. It is always about policy! It is not about slamming the Governor; it is about passing good legislation and defeating bad legislation. Barring some extraordinary fact that was discernible until after the close of the regular session, assuming you actually read the bill and found it worthy of support, it should still be worthy of support in September.
Governor Continues to Withhold Money
In a bipartisan effort, the General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto on HB 19 that gave money to rebuild the pike-Lincoln Technical Center. The Center trained students for jobs in computer and networking technology, practical nursing, diesel technology, building trades and several other occupations, and was destroyed by a fire in 2011. Governor Nixon decided on Thursday that such Center was unnecessary to help educate Missourians, and withheld the $1 million that the legislature agreed, twice, to give to the Center to help rebuild.
Governor Nixon said he would release the $400 million that the legislature designated for education, mental health and other departments during regular session if legislators did not override his veto of HB 253. After HB 253 was sustained, Governor Nixon only released $215.2 million of the promised money, leaving programs like the Early Grade Literacy Program, Mobile Dental Program, Rural Health Clinics-Dental Program, Social Innovation Grants, Diabetic Telemonitoring Program, and programs without funding.
According to the Missouri Constitution, Article IV Section 27, the Governor is allowed to withhold money when the actual revenue of the state is less than the revenue estimates upon the appropriations were based. The State of Missouri currently has a budget surplus.
Historic Number of Vetoes Overridden
The General Assembly overrode these 10 vetoes on September 11th:
1. House Bill 19 line item--Provides $1 million funding for the Pike-Lincoln Technical Center
2. Senate Bill 9--Allows University of Missouri Extension Councils to form extension districts made up of cooperating counties
3. House Bill 278--The practice, mention, celebration, or discussion of any federal holidays can not be prohibited
4. House Bill 329--Changes the laws regarding financial institutions
5. House Bill 339--Uninsured drivers can’t collect noneconomic damages from an insured motorist alleged to be at fault for an accident
6. House Bill 650--Protects the Doe Run Co. from lawsuits related to their old lead mining facilities
7. House Bill 1035--Changes the law regarding political subdivisions
8. Senate Bill 110--Establishes child custody and visitation rights of a deployed military parent
9. Senate Bill 170--Allows members of various public boards and other government bodies to cast roll call votes via videoconferencing
10. Senate Bill 129--Allows licensed health care professionals to provide volunteer health care services