JEFFERSON CITY -Hours after Democratic Gov. Bob Holden called on the Missouri General Assembly to convene Monday in a special session, Republicans condemned Holden for using education for political ends. They did not, however, completely slam the door on his proposals to eliminate "corporate loopholes" to earn revenue for public schools.
"He's using education as a poker chip," House Speaker Pro Tem Rod Jetton said. "It's just not right."
Holden's plan to eliminate four relatively small tax breaks would raise $44 million for the current fiscal year, an admittedly "modest step." The plan is small enough not to trigger the state constitutional requirement for voter approval.
In July, Holden withheld nearly $200 million of the $4.55 billion legislators had appropriated for public schools. He said that lawmakers had failed to collect enough revenue for the spending.
"He's already withheld $197 million and now he's trying to raise $40 million," Crowell said. "I don't know what he's trying to accomplish."
Holden's calls to eliminate four "corporate loopholes" to raise revenue for public schools do not ring true for Crowell.
"He is not making any effort of substance or meaning to make education his top priority," Crowell said. "Instead he's making it his top chopping block."
However, not all of Holden's proposals have met such resistance from Republicans.
The proposal that would bring in the most revenue is the elimination of the "Geoffrey Loophole," which allows out-of-state corporations to avoid paying Missouri income taxes. The income of Missouri subsidiaries is transferred to the holding corporation located in another state. Eliminating the tax break would generate $23 million in the current fiscal year.
Hanaway said she has met with Holden and agreed to do away with the tax break, but it is a matter of crafting the appropriate legal language to fix the matter.
The General Assembly will convene for the special session on Monday and Tuesday to deliberate Holden's latest proposals. A veto session will then begin on Wednesday to consider overriding dozens of vetoes Holden made in the spring session.
The most controversial measures vetoed by Holden are bills requiring a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, allowing most Missourians the right to carry concealed weapons and limiting damages in medical malpractice suits.
Although some members of the General Assembly have said overriding the vetoes will depend on the presence of Sen. Jon Dolan (R-Lake Saint Louis), who is on active duty in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Republicans have said Holden's latest tax proposals are an attempt to take the spotlight away from the pending veto session.
"We will not allow the governor's call for a special session to distract us from overriding his vetoes," Crowell said.