Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, voted for the override Wednesday in Jefferson City.

The Missouri House has failed to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of legislation that would cut state income taxes for the first time in nearly a century.

Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, voted for the override.

The vote, which happened after more than an hour and a half of debate near the start of the state Legislature’s annual veto session today, signaled a key victory for Nixon, who has spent the summer advocating against the tax legislation, which he often characterized as poorly drafted.

Both the Houston City Council and Houston board of education both passed resolutions opposing the override. 

Nixon, a Democrat, called today’s vote “a defining moment for our state and a victory for all Missourians.”

“Missourians are fiscally conservative folks who want good jobs in their communities and quality schools for their kids,” he said. “Over the past several months they have fought to defend those bedrock principles from being undermined by a reckless experiment — and today, they won.”

The bill sought to lower the top personal income tax rate by one-half of a percentage point, to 5.5 percent. The corporate tax rate would fall by 3 percentage points, to 3.25 percent. Those cuts would be phased in over 10 years.

The centerpiece of the bill was a 50 percent tax cut, phased in over five years, for businesses that “pass through” their income to the owner’s personal return.

Passed in the final days of the regular session after months of debate and revisions, the tax cut legislation served as a hallmark of the session for many Republicans, who have often pointed to Kansas and the ongoing border war that Missouri faces with its neighbor to the west as justification for the measure.

Still, Republicans went into today’s vote with a very slim chance of overruling Nixon.

Override attempts need 109 votes in the House, where Republicans hold exactly 109 seats. Several GOP members had already spoken out against the bill, which Nixon argued would raise the prices of college textbooks and prescription drugs while leading to a drop in state funding for education and other services. The final House vote was 94-67. Without two-thirds of the chamber in favor, no vote will be taken in the Senate.

Advocates in favor of the tax legislation filled the House chamber for much of today’s debate.

“We want to help the people of Missouri grow,” said Rep. TJ Berry, a Republican from Kearney who sponsored the bill.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said the Legislature will continue to work on tax measures in the future.

“This is only a temporary setback for the majority of House members who believe substantive tax relief is the best way to grow our economy and to help the hard-working Missourians who deserve to keep more of their hard-earned dollars,” he said.

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