Missouri House Bill 253…Vetoed! (Part II)
Let’s make one thing clear: The state is required to have a balanced budget. If revenues do not meet current expenditure levels, then there will have to be cuts to the budget in order to match revenues. Governor Nixon fears that HB 253 will force deep cuts that will affect vital services. Governor Nixon’s fears are overstated.
First, there are revenue triggers in the bill that would prevent the full tax cut from taking affect if revenues did not grow. Governor Nixon warns that if the Marketplace Fairness Act is enacted and the top rates drop by one-half percent, then state revenues will suffer. If this did occur; however, then the rest of the individual and corporate tax cuts would be stopped and only the business tax deductions would continue.
Second, the state is looking to have a $300 million surplus at the end of the year, which means it currently has more than enough revenue to fund its current operations. Now whether we have a surplus next year depends on what the state plans to spend and the state of Missouri’s economy. However, right now, Missouri has a cushion to absorb a decline in revenue.
Third, the Governor’s analysis (at least in the veto message), does not consider the dynamic effects for lowering the tax rates. According to a paper by Mathias Trabandt and Harald Uhlig, increased economic efficiency can make up for some of the revenue lost due to a tax cut. I’m not saying this tax cut will pay for itself, but the economic research by Trabandt and Uhlig suggest that it is not unreasonable to suggest that the loss in revenue will not be as large as opponents fear.
It is also important to note that if the state kept to tight expenditure limits for future years, like increasing spending only by inflation and population growth, then it would be easier to live with diminished revenues. For example, the Show-Me Institute published a policy study by Stephen Moore and Richard Vedder on how Missouri could eliminate the income tax entirely by 2020 if it adhered to these expenditure limits.
Governor Nixon’s veto will hurt Missouri in the long run and I’m sure Kansas is grateful for his actions. However, the reasons behind Governor Nixon’s veto are flawed and if Missouri is to remain competitive, it needs measures like HB 253 to become law.