Greitens talks tax cuts, Senate filibuster, open records law
Gov. Eric Greitens speaks about his tax plan Monday at Economy Products in Macon. Greitens spoke about the importance of bringing new business to Missouri.
JEFFERSON CITY — At a press conference Thursday afternoon, the governor defended his tax plan, discussed a marathon filibuster in the Senate and voiced general support for the attorney general’s intent to strengthen open records laws.
Gov. Eric Greitens spoke to the media at the governor’s mansion as part of an annual event organized by the Missouri Press Association and The Associated Press.
Earlier in the day, State Auditor Nicole Galloway held a press conference where she said the state has become increasingly reliant on individual taxpayers to fund government.
While legislators propose tax cuts for the people of Missouri, she said families have had to pay higher property and sales tax. A press release she issued Thursday said if Missouri were to encounter an economic recession like the one in 2009, the situation would be dire because of tax cuts and other recent economic policy decisions.
When asked about Galloway’s assessment, the governor said, “We are 100 percent confident in our analysis, and the auditor’s math is wrong.”
Greitens said his tax-cut proposal is sound.
“She simply hasn’t read the plan. Her numbers are off,” he said.
Galloway could not be reached for response to the governor’s comments.
The governor’s tax plan
On Thursday, Greitens restated that he believes his plan would not cut state revenue, although he offered no additional details. He also opened the possibility of working with other versions of tax-cut plans proposed by lawmakers.
“We’ve been working really closely with a lot of the Republican legislators,” Greitens said. “We’ll work with anybody who shares our vision of more jobs and higher pay, and putting money into the pockets of the people of Missouri.”
He said his office had met with several lawmakers, including Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Washington.
Curtman confirmed that he had discussed the tax plan with Greitens and that he himself supports the tax reform effort.
“We can absolutely make a plan that’s revenue-neutral,” Curtman said. “We have…different bill sponsors with different ideas (about) how to go about doing that.”
Curtman also said he supports caps on tax-credit programs.
Highlights of the governor’s plan include a tax credit that would eliminate state taxes for 380,000 Missourians and a corporate tax rate reduction to 4.25 percent, down from 6.25 percent, which would make Missouri’s corporate tax rate the second lowest of all states that have such a tax.
Open records laws
The governor was asked about the attorney general’s proposal that would make changes to the state’s open records laws.
Among the proposals announced by Attorney General Josh Hawley is the creation of an “Office of Transparency” to focus on open records issues. Hawley made the announcement not long after his office began an investigation into allegations that Greitens’ office may be in violation of the open records law by using an app that deletes text messages after they were read.
“I absolutely support common-sense reforms, some of them along the lines that Josh has proposed,” Greitens said.
The Senate filibuster
While Greitens addressed the media at the governor’s mansion, senators were filibustering a bill concerning public utilities. Critics have said that the bill, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, would allow utility companies to raise their rates.
“I do support regulatory reform,” Greitens said. “I’ve got tremendous respect for Sen. Emery who’s been leading the charge,” Greitens said, adding that he has “great confidence in (Emery’s) judgment on this.”
Greitens said he will wait to see the final outcome of the bill before making a final judgement.
In addition to these topics, the governor noted his replacement of the previous administration’s appointees to the Missouri Veterans Commission in response to results found by an investigation into mistreatment at the St. Louis Veterans Home. He reiterated that his administration chose to prioritize funding to K-12 education, and would cut funding to higher education to help make that possible, and he expressed his support for legislation that would make changes to Missouri’s prevailing wage laws.