JEFFERSON CITY -- As Republican lawmakers decide whether they have the votes to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of an auto sales tax measure next week, one of the party's leaders says they shouldn't waste their time.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican from Cape Girardeau, told radio host Mike Ferguson Tuesday that he does not support a legislative attempt to override Nixon's decision on legislation reinstating local sales taxes on out-of-state vehicle purchases.
"I don’t think expending a lot of effort to override a governor’s veto, which happens only very rarely, is the way to proceed here," Kinder said.
The legislation was passed in May in response to a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that local sales taxes cannot be levied when vehicle purchases are made in another state. They also can't be applied to sales between two individuals, the court found.
The bill attempted to reverse the decision and allow the taxes to be collected, with proponents arguing that the ruling put Missouri at an economic disadvantage by giving residents a tax incentive to buy vehicles in neighboring states like Kansas. They were also concerned that the loss of the tax revenue would hurt local government budgets.
The bill applied retroactively, meaning anyone who avoided taxes due to the court ruling would be forced to pay them once the legislation went into effect.
Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the measure because he said it amounted to a new tax without a public vote.
Last week, he released figures from the Department of Revenue showing no local sales taxes were paid on 122,702 vehicles bought after the March 21 effective date of the court ruling. Of those, only 14,000 were vehicles purchased from out-of-state dealerships, or roughly 11 percent.
Nixon said it was "just plain wrong" to retroactively tax these individuals. Any decision on taxes must be put on the ballot and decided by voters, he said.
“This General Assembly should not circumvent Missouri voters and raise taxes on automobiles," Nixon said.
Kinder, who until late last year was the frontrunner to be the Republican nominee to challenge Nixon, agrees.
"Well, I do not support making it retroactive, I differ with my friends there," Kinder said Tuesday. "And I also do not support an override of the governor’s veto that would effectively impose a big tax on these people who made these lawful purchases."
Kinder's position puts him at odds with many of his party's leaders, including gubernatorial nominee Dave Spence, who said last week that he hopes lawmakers will override the governor's veto when they return to the Missouri Capitol next week.
House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, said Tuesday that if lawmakers override the governor, retroactive tax bills could be withheld until next year. That would allow the General Assembly to repeal the retroactive clause when they return in January, and Silvey said he will sponsor the legislation.
"By making this promise, I hereby call on you, governor, to stop using scare tactics and for once make a decision that helps businesses and cities across this state," he said.
The Missouri Senate in May passed the original legislation unanimously. It cleared the Missouri House 122 to 21, with 77 Republicans joining 44 Democrats in support of the measure.
However, support for the legislation does not always translate to support of a veto override. For instance, House Minority Leader Mike Talboy, a Kansas City Democrat, voted in favor of the bill in May. But he said Tuesday he will not vote to override the governor.
There are currently 104 Republicans in the Missouri House, short of the 109 needed for a veto override.
Mike Ferguson's full interview with Kinder is available here.