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Home » Opinion » Gary Cross Capitol Update, April 26, 2014

Gary Cross Capitol Update, April 26, 2014

Gary Cross Capitol Update, April 26, 2014

April 26, 2014

Tax Cut Discussion Intensifies

Last week as I talked about the income tax cut approved by the House and Senate I did so with the warning that the governor had already expressed concerns with the bill. This week the governor went into full-on attack mode as he claimed to have found a "fatal flaw" in the bill that would likely require a veto.

The bill we passed was meant to cut the income tax for Missouri families and businesses by $620 million annually when fully implemented. According to the governorís claims, the bill contains a drafting error that would actually eliminate the top income tax bracket entirely and result in a tax cut of $4.8 billion. His opinion is based on the analysis of his own legal team as well as a Washington University Law School professor.

The leadership teams of the House and Senate immediately countered the governorís claims with their own analysis that affirms the tax cut would be implemented as intended. Backing their assertion is former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice William Ray Price, Jr. who clearly stated that the court would not side with the governorís interpretation. Priceís memo on the subject states, "Based upon the plain language of full Senate Bill 509, it is my opinion Missouri courts would find that, after full implementation of the reduction, the 5.5% tax rate would apply to all income over $8,000 (as adjusted for C.P.I.)." Priceís finding also has been reaffirmed by the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants, which analyzed the billís language and found it to be crafted properly.

Sadly, the focus the governor has placed on the details of the bill distracts from the main point of the issue Ė whether a tax cut is the right thing for Missouri. It seems clear at this point that the governor does not support reducing the tax burden while the legislature feels a tax cut is the right move to grow Missouriís economy. Itís this discussion that is certainly one worth having and one we will continue to engage in during the final weeks of session.

The governor has until May 1 to veto the tax cut bill. If he does, expect the legislature to act quickly to bring it up for a potential veto override. At this time it is not known if the House and Senate will have the votes necessary to secure an override, but the leaders of both chambers feel confident that they do. The next few weeks will be very interesting to watch for all Missourians interested in the fate of the tax cut bill.

Criminal Code Revision Receives Final Passage (SB 491)

Checking in at more than 1,000 pages in length, the criminal code revision bill passed by the House this week represents a mammoth undertaking but also one that is desperately needed to bring consistency to our laws. It has been more than 35 years since the criminal code was comprehensively revised and during that time the legislature has passed bills in a piecemeal approach that has made the code inconsistent in many areas and confusing to even those with expertise in the law.

The bill we approved would create a new classification of misdemeanor and a new classification of felony to better allow the punishment to appropriately fit increasing levels of severity of criminal activity. The bill also greatly increases the punishments for individuals who sexually abuse children and for assault crimes in general. In addition, it deals much more harshly with habitual drunk drivers who endanger others on the road, and creates a stair-step approach for drug-related crimes that would give additional flexibility to prosecutors, defense attorneys and courts in the disposition of drug-related cases.

The overall impact of the bill would be to create a code that represents a consistent, cohesive approach to dealing with crime in our state. It is a change our prosecutors, defense attorneys and everyone involved in the law enforcement community has called for us to pass. Shortly after we passed the bill in the House it moved back to the Senate where it was approved as well. The bill now moves to the governorís desk to be signed into law. It is important to note that even with the governorís signature the changes in the bill would not go into effect until 2017.

Job Creation Bill Sent to Governorís Desk (HB 2029)

This week the Missouri Senate gave final approval to legislation approved by the House that would help create more good-paying jobs in Missouri. The legislation is already the key component in efforts to bring 600 new jobs in the Kansas City area and has the potential to lure even more jobs to other parts of Missouri in the future.

The bill would extend Missouriís current sales and use tax exemption for replacement parts and equipment used to repair aircraft. The exemption is currently set to expire January 1, 2015. The legislation HB 2029 would remove the expiration date and make the exemption permanent so that parts and equipment used in aircraft repair would remain tax-free.

The passage of the bill is an important part of efforts to bring Aviation Technical Services to the Kansas City International Airport. The company, which is one of the largest suppliers of Boeing 737 and 757 airframe maintenance in the world, will bring with it 600 new jobs that pay an average annual salary of $60,000. These are the kinds of family-supporting jobs we want here in Missouri and this legislation is an important step toward securing the jobs in Kansas City and to open the doors of opportunity for other businesses to set up shop here in the years to come.

The bill now moves to the governorís desk to be signed into law.

I do appreciate your input on matters of importance to you, your family, and community. If, at any time, you have questions, concerns or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for Missouri citizens, please feel free to contact me at 573-751-1459 or e-mail me at gary.cross@house.mo.gov. Thank you for taking an active role by voicing your opinions on our state and national government issues. Thank you for the honor to serve the 35th District.

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