Five takeaways from Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto session preview

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After suspending his campaign to sustain his vetoes in August due to the unrest in Ferguson, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is going back to his old self this week with familiar themes against the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

On Thursday, he called on the legislature to sustain his record-number of vetoes, focusing mainly on the bills that have to do with the state’s budget.

1) Nixon is against the lump strategy of overriding his vetoes of budget line-items, as some lawmakers have suggested they might to.

“If they want to grow government,” Nixon said repeatedly about efforts to override his line-item vetoes, “they are required to vote on each of these independently.”

The constitutional answer to the questions is unclear. Lawmakers have yet to announce how they intend to proceed on the more than 100 line item vetoes, but their schedule for the week — released on Thursday – did build in some extra time on Thursday and Friday, with an indication to members that they should be prepared to stay in Jefferson City through the end of the week.

2) If lawmakers do override Nixon’s vetoes on the budget line items, Nixon indicated he does have the opportunity to just withhold the funds in the end.

“We’d have to take a real close look at how much revenue was available,” he said. “It’s a big deal knowing you don’t have the money, and everybody knows we don’t have the money for all of this stuff.”

3) In his ongoing second-term clash with lawmakers, he’s making a big ask.

Nixon wants the legislature to give up on two big things that he has temporarily taken away: Millions in new spending and millions in new tax credits.

“This is not the time to be building government up,” he said. “With the specter of this budget year and [the tax cut law, Senate Bill] 509 coming, building up government programs we can’t sustain or afford is not the way to run government.”

“Overriding these vetoes,” he said. “would put Missouri on a permanent path to living beyond its means.”

4) On the 72-hour abortion waiting period bill, Nixon said, “we’ll see.”

“When I get bills, we study them. I think that 1307 is an extreme and disrespectful measure that doesn’t include and exception for rape and incest. That would make Missouri one of two states to take such an extreme step,” he said. “We’ll see what they do. That is an extreme step to not allow exceptions for rape and incest.”

5) Does Nixon have the political capital with Democrats and at least a handful of Republicans to sustain his vetoes?

He was asked. He dodged.

“For me personally, I try to lay out what I think is the right fiscal policy for the state. I try to keep a clear and cogent measure for each member,” he said.

Nixon was asked how many lawmakers he had spoken to about sustaining his veto, but did not provide a number or estimate. He did say that the last three weeks dealing with the crisis in Ferguson had taken away some of his attention from the effort to sustain his vetoes.

Leave a Reply