Gov. Jay Nixon today visited the Greene County Public Safety Center for a roundtable discussion with area officials about the impact of special breaks and exemptions passed by the General Assembly in the final hours of the legislative session.
Together, provisions in these bills would reduce state and local revenues by up to $776 million annually, and were not accounted for in the budget passed by the legislature or in the budgets of the local jurisdictions they would impact. Most of these provisions would impact sales tax collections, and therefore would reduce local tax revenues, including funding for police, fire, and other emergency services.
"All across Missouri, voters like those here in Greene County have come together to make smart, strategic investments to strengthen public safety and improve quality of life in their communities," Gov. Nixon said. "These eleventh-hour carve-outs would erode funding for voter-supported services, all for the sake of letting a few special interests off the hook from paying their fair share. When they return to the Capitol next month, legislators should stand with their local communities and sustain my vetoes of these ill-conceived bills."
Opened in 2012, the Greene County Public Safety Center is home to the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management, Springfield-Greene County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center, and the Greene County Sheriff's Office Training Division. The facility was funded through a variety of sources, including up to $1 million annually in voter-approved 9-1-1 sales tax funds.
"Here in Greene County, we've worked in a bipartisan way to invest in our community and keep our citizens safe," Greene County Presiding Commissioner Jim Viebrock said. "This isn't about politics, it's about local control and making sure communities like ours can continue to provide the vital public services our citizens count on. That's why we will continue to communicate with our representatives and senators to make sure they understand what's at stake for the safety and wellbeing of our citizens and sustain the Governor's vetoes of these bills."
In June, the Governor vetoed Senate Bills 693, 584, 612, 860, 727, 662, and 829, and House Bills 1865, 1296 and 1455, which contain more than a dozen special breaks for a variety of industries. If these bills were to become law, they are projected to reduce state revenue by an estimated $425 million annually and local revenue by an estimated $351 million annually starting in the fiscal year that began on July 1.
Even recent fiscal notes prepared by the General Assembly show that the special tax breaks would reduce local revenues each year by at least $223 million. Furthermore, those fiscal notes acknowledge that the true cost of many of these bills is unknown, and could exceed those estimates.
By reducing local tax revenues, these special breaks would undermine support for services including police, fire, ambulance, emergency services, parks, and other vital public services provided at the local level. The loss of local revenue from these provisions could also impact repayment of voter-approved bonds issued to finance capital improvements such as county jails, county hospitals, fire stations, emergency management centers, road projects and other critical public infrastructure.
The bills vetoed by the Governor include new sales tax exemptions for recreation venues, fast food restaurants, power companies, data storage and processing, used vehicles, supplies and equipment used in electricity generation, and commercial laundries.
The reduced state sales tax revenue would also reduce funding from dedicated sales taxes for K-12 schools (also called the Proposition C sales tax), Highways, Conservation, State Parks, and Soil and Water Conservation Programs.
To date, more than 60 municipalities, counties and organizations, including the Greene County Commission, have formally voiced their opposition to these bills.