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Gov. Bob Holden refuses to confirm a special session

May 13, 2003
By: David Bryan and Megan McCloskey
State Capital Bureau
Links: hb 600

JEFFERSON CITY - The Republican leadership voiced their frustration Tuesday with Gov. Bob Holden's refusal to confirm or deny whether he will call a special session this summer.

Legislative leaders said the governor gave no response when they specifically asked him if there would be a special session.

After backing off veto threats last week, the two top leaders of Missouri's legislature said they feared he will call legislators back this summer to deal with what he has said is an inadequate budget.

"An on-time and soon-to-be-balanced budget was not satisfactory for the governor," said House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, R-St. Louis County.

Republican leaders said that in addition to costing the state $100,000 per week, the session would be fruitless.

The Senate President Pro Tem warned that if the governor spent that money for a special session, he'd get exactly the same result.

"In all likelihood, the governor's going to get the budget that has already been passed," said Sen. Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau.

The governor has advocated tax increases exceeding $600 million, which would require a vote of the people, to avoid some of the cuts to education.

"The right thing to do would be to put forth a budget that protects education," said the governor's spokeswoman, Mary Still.

In other legislative developments Tuesday:

  • A bill promising to raise more than $100 million in state revenue through a number of provisions passed was sent to the governor.

    Among the provisions in the bill is a tax amnesty that would allow taxpayers to pay any unpaid taxes without penalty.

    According to the bill's sponsor, the state of Missouri is owed more than $500 million in unpaid taxes.

    "The majority of that bill is money that is owed this state," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Shannon Cooper, R-Clinton.

    But Rep. Rick Johnson, D-Jefferson County, said he was concerned that the bill favors big business.

    "What was tax amnesty is now tax shamnesty," Johnson said.

  • The House passed a bill to take out bonds to deal with the depleted unemployment benefits fund.

    Employers pay an employment securtity tax into the fund, and that money is used to pay unemployment benefits. However, in the current economy unemployment rates are so high the fund is paying out more money than it takes in.

    "When unemployment is low the tax is sufficient," Sen. John Russel, R-Lebanan, the sponser of the bill said.

    Democrats argued taking out bonds is only a short term solution to a long term problem.

  • The Senate altered and sent back to the House a bill to regulate the sale of cold medicines that contain ephedrine, which can be used to produce the illegal drug methamphetamine.

    "It places cold medications at a location where it's less likely they'll be stolen," Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, the sponser of the bill said.

    Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia argued that the bill was only going to burden the "poor guy with a cold."

    "It's hard for me to believe this is an important crime fighting tool," Jacob said.