Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer

Washington School District officials breathed a sigh of relief that the Republican-controlled Legislature failed Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of legislation which aimed to cut income taxes.

Public school officials across the state and here at home all said the tax cut legislation was poorly drafted and harmful to education funding.

The Washington School District said it stood to lose more than $800,000 if Nixon’s veto was overridden.

School officials said they know the issue is not dead and fully expect lawmakers to draft similar legislation next year.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said she understands the desire to reform tax codes, tax incentives and other related items.

But she said reform must be looked at critically and analyzed to determine how the decisions truly impact the state’s ability to fund its priorities and meet the needs of the public.

“HB 253 was not that bill and I’m glad, in this case, that the veto has been sustained,” VanLeer told The Missourian.

“We just can’t afford to lose any more funding,” she said. “Educating our future workforce must be valued, especially as our expectations rise and our needs as a state and community change.”

Shelley Kinder, district CFO, said she nervously awaited news on HB253 Wednesday.

“We needed some good news and we got it, but we don’t expect this to go away — it will raise its head again,” Kinder told The Missourian.

Because of that, Kinder said the district will continue to plan accordingly in the event if similar legislation passes in the future.

“We are continuing to look at our expenditures to see where we could cut and continue to look for new revenue streams, but there’s nothing there,” she said.

Last month, the Washington School Board unanimously passed a resolution urging lawmakers to sustain the veto.

Key Victory

The failure to override the tax cut bill, as well as another piece of legislation to nullify federal gun laws, were two key victories for the governor, the Associated Press reported.

But, lawmakers still managed to hand Nixon a record number of defeats — overriding the governor on 10 bills.

Legislative leaders have vowed to continue pushing for a tax cut bill next year, which they say will spur economic development and make Missouri more competitive with its neighboring states.

Nixon hailed the unsuccessful override attempt as “a defining moment for our state and a victory for all Missourians.”

On Thursday, the governor released $215 million for education and other state services that he had frozen while waiting to see if the Legislature would override his veto.

It includes $66 million in basic aid for K-12 schools and $34 million in core funding for higher education institutions, plus other specific allotments for education.

Nixon has still maintained a hold on $185 million of budgeted expenses, primarily for repairs and construction at state buildings.

Republican lawmakers had criticized Nixon’s original spending restrictions as unjustified. On Thursday, they questioned his continued spending freeze.

State Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said he will propose a constitutional amendment next year that would curtail the governor’s ability to withhold budgeted expenses when revenues are strong.

Missouri lawmakers return to the Capitol in January for the 2014 session. A constitutional amendment would require approval from voters.