Why Democrat Jeff Roorda flipped from his support of Senate Bill 509

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, initially supported Senate Bill 509 when it was initially sent out of the House. But when it came up for a successful override attempt, Roorda voted no.

When enacted, the legislation would offer a corporate tax deduction for limited liability companies and mild relief for Missourians making more than $9,000. In a statement following the vote, Roorda said he was fine with the bill initially because it would offer “some modest relief for middle class wage earners.”

That all changed, he said, when Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon claimed a “fatal flaw” in the bill that his administration argued could effectively eliminate all income taxes above $9,000.

Roorda, a Jefferson County Democrat, is in a tough state Senate race against Rep. Paul Wieland, a Republican who supported the bill. The two are running to replace Sen. Ryan McKenna, who left the Senate to serve as the director of the Missouri Department of Labor.

“Because of this drafting error, all taxpayers who earn over $9,000 would be free from paying state taxes blasting a $4.8 billion hole in our state budget. Worse yet, because of the Hancock Amendment, the legislature can’t fix this drafting error statutorily, we would have to go back to the voters and ask them to raise their own taxes by $4.8 billion, a risky proposal even in the best of economic times,” he said. “The real travesty here is the rush to declare victory on tax reform rather that to exercise the due diligence to get things right.”

Roorda suggested the House should have gone back and corrected the alleged flaw, and noted they could ave done so in time to pass a tax cut this session.

Republicans have 108 members in the Missouri House of Representatives. They needed one Democrat to support the bill in order to override Nixon. When Roorda backed off, Republicans instead received the support of Rep. Keith English, D-Florissant.

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