Both Democrat Jay Nixon and Republican Kenny Hulshof are on the air with television ads right now accusing each other of the same thing: Voting for "the largest tax hikes in Missouri history."
A special KY3 News @ 10 TruthWatch report digs into the specifics of those charges. Watch it HERE.
The Nixon ad against Hulshof claims that the Congressman "supported raising the gas tax by 23%, and the sales tax by $3 billion dollars, the largest tax hike in Missouri history."
The Nixon campaign is referring to Proposition B, a 2002 ballot initiative designed to raise taxes for a 10-year period, to pay for roads and bridges. Seventy-two percent of voters shot the sales and gas tax increases down. But just days before the vote, Hulshof did tell The Columbia Tribune, he reluctantly supported the hike.
"Kenny Hulshof, a Republican congressman from Columbia, declared himself a "yes" vote before succumbing to a spasm of hedging in which he said the credibility of MoDOT officials is "an issue," wrote the Tribune's Josh Flory. "Even though this bill is in some respects flawed, I’m going to reluctantly support it on Aug. 6," Hulshof is quoted as saying.
That makes the claim in Nixon's ad true. Hulshof discussed his decision with the KY3 Political Notebook Wednesday in Springfield.
"I felt the number of white crosses on the highways and number of funerals of people in the 9th District because of head-on collisions that, even though the measure was flawed in many aspects, that I saw the need to support that initiative," Hulshof explained.
Hulshof's ad against Nixon accuses Nixon of backing the two largest tax increases in Missouri history during the 1990s. The Hulshof campaign points to two State Senate votes. In 1991, as a State Senator, Nixon did vote for Senate Bill 353. It turned out to be a $385 million dollar tax hike for education -- that had to be sent to the voters for approval. The bill never cleared the House. Still, it's true to say that Nixon supported a tax hike that needed approval by the voters. The Hulshof campaign is quick to note that if approved, that $385 million dollars would have been an annual cost -- not one-time. Also at that time, Senate President Pro Tem James Mathewson, who also supported the measure, boasted "it's the biggest package that's ever been voted through the Missouri General Assembly in either body."
"The bottom line is that he VOTED FOR (emphasis his) the tax increase," said Hulshof spokesperson Scott Baker. "They're knocking Kenny for a quote in a newspaper. Jay Nixon's was a vote - in favor of the tax increase," he added.
Senate Bill 380 was a $310 million dollar tax hike passed in 1993. The hike again was designed for education. But Jay Nixon wasn't even in the state Senate for that vote. The vote was taken on May 14, 1993. It was signed into law two weeks later. Nixon had already become Attorney General in November 1992. The Hulshof campaign is criticizing Nixon for defending that legislation when opponents tried to force the hike to be put to a statewide vote. But, as Attorney General, it was Nixon's constitutional job to defend the state's bill.
Still, the Hulshof campaign points to a 1998 statement, where Nixon praised the results of the bill. "The reforms and dollars and the help to education have shown that Senate Bill 380 and the efforts made by Governor Carnahan and a bipartisan group in the legislature to improve education has worked," Nixon reportedly said on Aug. 31, 1998. "Nixon speaks highly of 380 in 1998. He thought it was a great bill! That is the definition of support," Baker said.
"There’s a reason why newspapers are already calling Congressman Hulshof’s latest attack ad ‘misleading’ and ‘unfair,'" said Nixon spokesperson Oren Shur. "The Congressman fully knows that it’s the Attorney General’s constitutional duty to defend the state’s laws whether he agrees with those laws or not. When Congressman Hulshof was a public defender, he defended a cop-killer. Does that mean Hulshof supports cop killers, or that he was simply doing his job as an attorney?," Shur asked.
Baker's response: "That doesn't pass the laugh test. Was he doing his job when he sued the state over the KATY trail bridge? Was he doing his job when he threatened to sue over MOHELA? Was he doing his job when he meekly defended the partial-birth abortion ban? How about when the legislature took him off the case regarding state funding of abortion?"
"He didn't just go through the motions on 380. He aggressively fought in court to keep it from the voters," Baker said. "This begs the simple question - does he support 380 today or not?"
To view both of Nixon and Hulshof's ads click HERE.