JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon took to the podium on Thursday to criticize Republican budgeters for resistance to his number on the Fiscal Year 2014 Supplemental Budget.
But during a news conference with reporters, the topic eventually strayed away to other issues that have been raised by the General Assembly.
“I’m actually kind of optimistic about how many things are in play as we get to the last few weeks of session,” he said.
NIXON CAUTIOUS ON CRIMINAL CODE
“Welcome to the legislative process.”
Nixon said on Thursday that his office is watching the two different bills moving through the legislature regarding the criminal code. Both chambers passed their own bills earlier in the week. Nixon reiterated his concern in doing a criminal code reform in such a large chunk.
“When you’re doing something like this, rewriting the criminal code, there is no room for error. There are too many times in the past where we’ve seen errors made,” he said. “When you go through the legitimate policy differences, let’s not forget the writing crafting that goes along with them… It needs to be done in a very precise fashion.”
He said he was not supportive of a provision that would allow for two years before the bill would be implemented in order to catch any errors that may have been missed.
“You don’t do bill review for two years,” he said. “On the criminal code, that’s not the way I operate.”
“Spending 16 years as attorney has given me a unique and specific perspective, and a knowledge that are ways to improve the criminal code,” he added, but when asked, would not offer any sort of specific answer to what it is that he would actually like to see in a criminal code reform bill.
NOT A FAN OF THE SENATE TAX CUT
Lawmakers have moved tax cut bills in recent weeks, including one sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus that would provide marginal tax relief to individuals and change the way corporations can deduct income. Kraus’s tax bill is estimated to cut revenues by more than $600 million over the next decade.
“$620 million is almost exactly what it would take to fully fund the formula and higher education. That’s too much. We look forward to continuing to talk to the legislature,” he said. “They need to be focused and reasonable.”
DOUBLES DOWN ON CONSENSUS REVENUE FIGURE
Nixon said on Thursday he is confident with his budget revenue figure, despite resistance from lawmakers and the fact that they have not been able to come to a consensus on a revenue figure.
“We looked long and hard and I feel good about the numbers I put in… Most economists you’ll see say to expect a stable rate with some uptick, and then it is going to accelerate as you move into Q3, Q4, and the next fiscal year,” he said, noting that the second half of the year is where he expects revenue growth. “We’ve continued to see good investment in Missouri.”
So why are revenues down from gaming and lottery?
“I’m not sure why,” he said. “There are a couple of theories about why gaming revenue is where it is. One of those is the market is being filled in one form or another, with lots of gaming opportunities. The second is post-recession, people are finding less pleasure, excitement, whatever word you use for that feeling when dice are going across the table.”
Nixon added, “I’m not a big gambler, it seems like a math problem you can’t win to me.”