It is hard to understand the governor’s reasoning in vetoing so many of the appropriation bills when he has the authority to withhold the funding if revenues fall short of their projections. Personally, I will be watching several line items very closely. Two are vetoes for Crowder College monies, monies that are important to Crowder and its future plans. (Other community colleges are facing a similar situation.)
Another line item I will be watching affects the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon. The governor vetoed $5.2 million of funding, and because of this veto the University of Missouri—which operates the facility—made the decision to close it on October 31. I feel it is important to keep this center open and utilize it in a useful manner as we go into the future. Additional line items the governor chose to veto include an increase in appropriation for Missouri nursing homes, sheltered workshops, and school safety grants.
Appropriation for Blue Sun Energy, a St. Joseph company that makes diesel and jet fuel from waste (primarily from hog fat) is another line item I will keep my eyes on. State funds had already been appropriated for this company but were withheld because of previous budget shortfalls. This past Session we were able to find the money to make good on our funding commitment from past years; however, the governor chose to veto this appropriation.
These are just a few of the 116 lines that were vetoed, but it is possible many or all may be overridden. Since appropriation bills originate in the Missouri House, the override attempt will have to begin there. It is conceivable that a tremendous amount of time may be required in order to deal with all of these line items. We are preparing for this possibility.
Bills that stand a good chance of being overridden during the Veto Session are House Bill 1132 and House Bills 1307 & 1313. HB 1307 and HB 1313 are actually the same bill; they were combined in the House.
HB 1132 seeks to expand the state income tax credit on maternity homes, pregnancy resource centers, and food pantries. In our state there are 18 maternity homes, 57 pregnancy resource centers, and numerous food pantries. If successfully overridden, HB 1132 will increase the maternity home and the pregnancy resource centers’ tax credits from $2 to $2.5 million annually. It would increase the food pantry tax credit from $500,000 to a maximum of $1.75 million annually. These tax credits help encourage individual donations to the agencies, as donors are given a 50% tax credit when they file their state income taxes. For example, if a person donates $100, he or she is allowed a $50 tax credit on that donation at the time they file their state taxes.This is huge for Joplin’s Life Choices and Neosho’s Care-Net Pregnancy Center and is a big boost to the Seneca Food Pantry. The governor’s reasoning for vetoing this bill is his desire to “reign in tax credits” and to not permit the “growing of the state’s overall tax credit expenditures.” HB 1132 was truly a bi-partisan bill, passing the House 121-25 and passing the Senate with a vote of 30-1. These are three tax credits that have the potential to help save lives and benefit the needy.
HB 1307 & 1313 seeks to extend the 2006 mandated waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours for a woman desiring an abortion. The governor’s reasoning for vetoing this bill is that it does not contain an exemption for rape or incest. However, under current law, victims of rape can receive immediate medical treatment, as well as a preventative contraceptive. HB 1307 & 1313 simply extends the waiting period to 72 hours, but does not change the overall existing law. This bill passed in the House 111-39 and in the Senate 22-9.
So far, this coming week is shaping up to be a busy and interesting one as we prepare to convene for the 2014 Veto Session. We are assured that Wednesday will most likely be a long day, and we are being told to prepare to stay Thursday and even until Friday, if necessary.