by Tim Reed
A corporate-backed scheme to decrease taxes for businesses and the most affluent citizens in Missouri at the expense of public school funding failed yesterday as a bipartisan coalition of Representatives formed to support an earlier veto from Governor Jay Nixon.
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The bill, which was vetoed by Nixon in June, would have reduced Missouri’s corporate tax rate by 3 full percentage points and rates for the top earners by a half percentage point. Although the bill was touted as a way to encourage job growth, Nixon’s office contended that the bill would cut as much as $1.2 billion in tax revenues in a single year, leading to devastating cuts to public education, mental health care and other state services.
Public education advocates, along with the Missouri National Education Association (MNEA), worked tirelessly across the state to show the impact these cuts to education would have had. With larger class sizes, loss of bus routes, educator layoffs, destruction of the arts and after school programs and more on the line, over one-fifth of Missouri’s local school boards joined the fight and passed resolutions condemning the scheme.
After the failed veto override, MNEA President Charles Smith, a teacher from the Center School District, said:
Today a bi-partisan coalition of Missouri Representatives chose to support our public school students and rejected the risky tax schemes of H.B. 253. Teachers and school support professionals across the state are applauding Gov. Nixon and the members of the Missouri House who stood strong for our public schools and rejected H.B. 253.
H.B. 253 would have forced dangerous cuts to our public schools equal to laying off over 9,400 educators. Strengthening our economy demands we invest in our students and our public schools. H.B. 253 would have taken our schools backward, forcing students into overcrowded classrooms with inadequate support and outdated materials. I am grateful that the Missouri House chose Missouri’s children over the lobbyists and special interests behind H.B. 253
In addition to their on-the-ground organizing and lobbying efforts, MNEA ran television ads urging Missouri’s elected officials to fight back against the cuts and stand up for public school children in the weeks leading up to the vote.
Also yesterday, the Missouri Senate failed to override a second veto from Governor Nixon, this time on a paycheck deception bill. Billed as a way to protect workers, so-called “paycheck deception” bills are actually an attempt to silence the voice of unions across the country, creating rules that limit the way union members can spend their own money. Rules that, unsurprisingly, don’t apply to businesses or special interests backed by wealthy corporate donors.
On the failure of the override, Charles Smith said:
Today a bi-partisan group of senators stood up for the basic rights of Missouri’s middle-class workers to have a voice on the job. Paycheck deception bills at their core are an attempt to silence the teachers, nurses, public safety personnel and countless other middle-class Missourians who work every day to make Missouri a great place to live. We applaud the senators of both parties who rejected the out-of-state special interests’ attempting to pass S.B. 29.
Hundreds of Missouri educators met with their lawmakers in person, and thousands more did so via phone, email, and letters to stop the attack on Missouri’s middle class. Proposals like S.B. 29 weaken the ability of Missouri educators to advocate for students, children, and our communities. The Senate was wise to uphold Governor Nixon’s veto.