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June 27, 2103 Volume 34, No. 32

UM System president supports governor’s veto of tax-cut bill


Bill supporters say tax cuts will help grow Missouri economy

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe told curators June 14 that he supported Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill Wolfe said would indirectly impact funding for state higher education.

The Republican-sponsored bill, known as HB 253, has many components, one of which cuts Missouri personal income tax from 6 percent to 5.5 percent and the corporate income tax by 3 percent over 10 years. HB 253 also adds a tax to the purchase of college textbooks, currently nontaxable. 

If passed, HB 253 would require state funding cuts to K-12 education, colleges, universities, and public safety and health services, Nixon wrote in a June letter to the secretary of state explaining his veto. The bill’s cost to Missourians “would exceed $800 million annually,” he wrote.

Wolfe told the Board of Curators that he is not opposed to tax cuts as long as the state is finding revenue elsewhere or identifying where cuts could be made to make up for the decrease in general revenue. “But that’s not what is happening with House Bill 253,” he said.

To compensate for the projected state funding decrease, the UM System would have to raise tuition on all four campuses 8 percent to 16 percent, Wolfe said. “If not steeply raising tuition, we would have to look at things like cuts in our workforce, decreased wages and even enrollment caps,” he said.

Supporters, however, say HB 253 is a way to kick-start job growth and curtail western Missouri businesses from relocating to Kansas, which cut its individual and business taxes in recent years.

Senator Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit) supports the bill. The higher education cuts would be phased in over years, he said in an interview June 12. “The current level of funding is not going away.” Meanwhile, as the economy grows over the next five to 10 years, more education funding would become available.

“The tax cut would only go into effect as the economy grows,” Kraus said. “If you give money back to the taxpayer, the job creators, they will spend money and create more economic growth.”

The General Assembly will vote whether or not to override Nixon’s veto in the fall.