By Leisa Zigman I-Team Reporter


The latest salvo in the 'battle of the governors" heats up as Missouri's Gov. Jay Nixon not only blasts Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but he also takes shots at the Missouri Chamber of Commerce for hosting a lunch for Perry.

"For the Missouri Chamber of Commerce to host a speaker at the same time that speaker is running ads saying Missouri businesses should go to another state, is in direct contravention to the purposes of that organization which is to support and enhance Missouri businesses," Nixon said.

Nixon visited Boeing Wednesday to promote a new law that he says reshapes the state's business incentives. But it was the Perry visit and ads he is running that sparked the most questions.

Perry will be in St. Louis Thursday to not only boast about his state's pro-jobs environment, but to criticize Nixon for vetoing a House Bill 253.

The chamber's president, Dan Mehan, says the tax-cutting bill is good for the economy and says the legislature needs to override Nixon's veto.

When asked how he feels about Perry's message, Mehan said his feelings were mixed.

"The message of how to grow your economy? I like that message," Mehan said. "I don't like the fact that unfortunately he's coming in with that message on the radio that he's trying to market to our companies. But governor's do that. We need to make sure we have as solid a business plan as states like Texas.

"It's also Governor Nixon's message. When he recruits other companies to Missouri, I mean this is nothing new, this really isn't a story."

Nixon doubled down, saying the chamber is ignoring its charter and bylaws.

"Their purpose is to promote Missouri businesses," he said. "It is in stark contrast to the purposes of that organization if they invite people in who are running ads saying Missouri businesses should leave the state. That just seems, how should we say, beyond ironic."

The Missouri legislature will meet Sept. 11 for a veto session. The governor says he believes he has some Republicans who will not vote for the override.

Rep T.J. Berry, the Republican sponsor of the Tax Relief Act, tells NewsChannel 5 that the vote will be close and that they'll need every single Republican vote for the override.

Nixon says he vetoed HB 253 because it "Takes $800 million out of the state budget. That is more than we spend on higher education, mental health and corrections. That is not the way to build an economy."

He also says the bill raises taxes on prescription drugs.

The Chamber sent us the following points on why it supports the over-ride of the veto:

For the last 4 ½ years we have stood by Gov. Nixon to advocate pro-jobs legislation including economic development legislation, Medicaid expansion, manufacturing incentives and tax reductions. With the same energy and effort, the Missouri Chamber worked to secure passage of House Bill 253, which Gov. Nixon vetoed. We have been a lead in the campaign to override Gov. Nixon's veto and the fight has grown intense. Although we are not surprised, it has been difficult to watch inaccurate and misleading comments by Gov. Nixon appear in the media. Now we are being told the governor is sending letters to our membership. In case you receive that letter, we wanted you to have the facts:

FACT: Education and other state services will see an increase in funding. The tax cuts will not go into effect unless the state sees a growth in revenue of $100 million each year - more than $1 billion dollars in growth over ten years. The governor's calculations are based on future revenue, not existing budgets. If the legislation would go into effect, Missouri workers will have a tax reduction of $384 million. Missouri job creators will have a tax reduction of $306 million andthe state will have more than $300 million dollars in surplus income tax as well. That does not account for the additional revenues in sales tax, property tax, etc. that would be generated though real economic growth. However, education is being hurt by the withholds that Gov. Nixon has levied against education in this fiscal year AND those he is threatening in the future because he does not want to relinquish control of the surplus revenues that Missourians have earned. Despite ending the year in a surplus of $400 million, Gov. Nixon is currently withholding $400 million additional funding from education and other state services.

\FACT: The accusation that the Missouri Chamber is hosting Gov. Rick Perry to poach jobs is ridiculous. This accusation is being pushed by Gov. Nixon to take the focus off a more important issue - a measure Missouri can take to keep our state competitive. We have an opportunity on September 11 to better position our state by overriding Gov. Nixon's veto of House Bill 253, legislation that would provide tax reductions to Missouri workers and job creators. It is a measure that is proven to help other states grow, and Missouri would join 20 other states that are reducing or eliminating income taxes. Gov. Rick Perry is meeting with Missouri Chamber members while he is in Missouri to discuss how low-tax policies can be put to work in our Missouri. The Missouri Chamber appearance is just one in a number of stops Gov. Perry is making while he is in Missouri. His visit to Missouri is similar to visits he has made to six other states. Like this week's visit, all are paid for by Texas One.

FACT: The Missouri Chamber believes that hearing about what other states are doing to be competitive is productive. Competition with other states for Missouri jobs is nothing new to us. Whether we like it or not, our state is in a unique position. We border more states, save Tennessee, than any other in the country. We are constantly in competition with those states for attracting and retaining businesses. Our two largest economic engines in the state sit on borders. Our hope is that we can continue to improve Missouri in order to keep Missouri at the top in the competition for those businesses.

FACT: Fighting for employers is our job at the Missouri Chamber. The mission of the Missouri Chamber is to advance and protect Missouri employers. Taking an active role in the campaign to provide a tax break that can help our state grow ties directly to that mission. Learning about what works from the leader of the fastest-growing state in the nation also aligns with that mission. To characterize it as anything else is simply not accurate.

FACT: The majority of business groups support HB 253. Currently, there are three local chambers that are opposing the veto override out of more than 200 local chambers in the state. (The Civic Council of Kansas City is not a chamber of commerce.) I think the bigger story is that the vast majority are not taking action on the issue, despite intense pressure to do so. If you take a look at the board makeup of these local organizations, you will see a much different makeup than the Missouri Chamber membership. All have representation from their local school districts, universities, and other public sector employers on their boards. These are the same people that have been threatened by the governor to have their funding cut. It is not surprising that this is the position these organizations would be compelled to take. We do not hold that against these organizations, and we look forward to working with these local chambers on future issues, as we have for decades.


FACT: Not all the commercials that are airing in support of the veto override are paid for by the Missouri Chamber. Many groups care about this legislation and have created and funded their own commercials. We have taken great care to focus on our priority for overriding the governor's veto. Missouri needs this tax relief to grow our economy and create jobs.

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