After the release of a report made by the House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, and with new information that Attorney General Josh Hawley has evidence to support another felony charge on an unrelated matter, the members of the House leadership team this week called for the governor to step down.
House Speaker Todd Richardson, House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, and House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo issued the following joint statement calling for the governor’s resignation:
“At the outset of this process, we said the governor needed to be forthright and accountable for his actions. After thoughtful consideration of the findings in the House committee’s report and today’s news that the attorney general has evidence to support another felony charge, we believe the governor needs to take responsibility for his actions.
Leaders at all levels of government are entrusted with an incredible responsibility to the Missourians we represent. When leaders lose the ability to effectively lead our state, the right thing to do is step aside. In our view, the time has come for the governor to resign.”
House Leadership was joined by Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, who also called for the governor to resign. The governor responded by saying he will not resign his position. Legislative leaders will wait for the investigative committee to complete its work. The House Speaker has said the legislature should call itself back for a special session to consider any recommendations the committee has for action against the governor.
Here are my thoughts at this time. One thing is for sure, this is not going to go away. As much as I want and wish it would. The Special Investigative House Committee must be allowed to finish their work. We need to collect all the evidence for both the invasion of privacy issue in St. Louis City and for taking a Non-For Profit donor list (The Mission Continues) and using that list for political contributions. Then make a decision as to if discipline is needed for our Governor. There is a fundamental fairness here…we must base our decisions on facts – not emotions. We must have a fair process – process matters.
I am in favor of calling a Special Session for two reasons. First, to allow the House Committee the time to complete its work. Second, we need to stay focused on the legislation Missourians are expecting us to complete. Then after regular session and with facts, have a Special Session (if necessary) to consider actions against the Governor.
House Gives Final Approval to Tax Reform and Infrastructure Act (HB 2540)
The House this week sent the Senate a comprehensive tax reform and infrastructure plan that would cut the state’s personal and corporate income tax rates and transform Missouri’s tax system to the most competitive in the nation, while also making substantive reforms to generate much-needed funding to repair and improve Missouri’s aging transportation infrastructure.
Four goals with this legislation:
• To make Missouri one of the top 10 most competitive states in income tax;
• To make Missouri one of the top 10 most competitive states in business tax;
• To develop a long-term, sustainable solution to funding our infrastructure; and
• To accomplish these things in a fiscally responsible way.
In an effort to ease the tax burden on Missouri families, the bill would reduce the state’s highest personal income tax rate from 5.9 percent to 5.0 percent. The change would place Missouri in the top 10 states for lowest personal income tax. The bill would also help Missouri’s business climate by cutting the corporate income tax from 6.25 percent to 5.0 percent. This reduction would also put Missouri in the top 10 states for the lowest corporate income tax.
Additionally, the bill would generate much-needed revenues for the state’s roads and bridges. It would put Missouri in line with many other states by indexing vehicle user fees to the cost of inflation. The state’s current vehicle license and registration fees were put in statute in 1984, and have not changed in more than 30 years. The tax reform bill would update fees from their 1984 value to present day value. The increase is a key component to the effort to generate nearly $2 billion in additional funding for transportation infrastructure over the next decade.
Additionally, to maintain financial stability to the state tax code, the bill would make a number of other reforms including:
• Joining the Streamlined Sales Tax agreement so that Missouri collects sales tax on online purchases so that Missouri brick and mortar businesses are on equal footing with online competitors;
• Phasing out the federal income tax deduction on state returns for individuals and corporations with over $150,000 in income;
• Reducing waste in state government by consolidating maintenance between certain government agencies;
• Eliminating deductions and closing loopholes; and
The Senate, which has sent its own version of tax reform legislation to the House, will now have the remaining weeks of session to act on the bill. I believe we will end up with a compromise from both the House and Senate bills during a conference committee near the end of session. I will support this if the bill is fiscally responsible and very close to revenue neutral.