Embattled Greitens puts out his tax cut plan via news release
JEFFERSON CITY • Embattled Gov. Eric Greitens stayed out of the public eye again Thursday, releasing the broad outlines of a tax cut plan in the style of President Donald Trump by news release instead of the statewide tour he had planned before he became embroiled in scandal.
The tax cut plan had been the most ambitious initiative in a State of the State speech last week, but the tour was canceled after Greitens admitted he had an extramarital affair in 2015.
The Republican chief executive denied allegations that he had threatened to release an intimate photo of the woman if she talked about their relationship.
This timeline of events contains information from the ex-husband of a woman who he says had an extramarital relationship with Greitens. On Wed…
The scandal is under investigation by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and has triggered calls by Republican lawmakers for the first-term governor to resign.
Under the tax plan, Greitens offered few specifics other than he wants to cut taxes for “working families” and corporations. He also said he wants the plan to be revenue-neutral, and that it would “end loopholes that primarily benefit big businesses and high earners,” but the governor offered no financial details to support the outline.
“It’s the boldest state tax reform in America because it’s tax reform for working families — not lobbyists and special interests,” said Greitens, a former Navy SEAL who ran for office as an outsider.
The news release says the scuttled tour may be resurrected in the coming weeks.
Any attempt at tax cuts, however, faces an uncertain fate in the GOP-controlled Legislature.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, raised red flags about cutting taxes at a time when the state is having to cut spending on other programs.
“I’m skeptical about tax cuts when we are cutting higher education and we’re having a conversation about transportation,” Richard said. “We’ve got to be able to provide for that safety net and the things that we’re required to do.”
One Democratic leader mocked the proposal, saying it was a desperation play by a scandal-plagued governor.
“Until Eric Greitens stops hiding and, in his own words, offers a full and detailed public denial of the allegations that he threatened his former mistress, Missourians won’t hear anything else he says,” said House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City.
From initial statement to fellow Republicans calling for his resignation, read the Post-Dispatch coverage of the governor’s scandal.
At least two other tax cut proposals are moving through the Legislature this session.
But the proposals being floated by Republican Sens. Andrew Koenig of Manchester and Bill Eigel of Weldon Spring carry big price tags that could force the state to cut programs to pay for them.
Richard said unlike other states, if Missouri reduces taxes, but then faces an emergency and needs to boost revenue, a tax increase must be approved by voters.
“Do you think the taxpayers would say, ‘Oh, you guys made a mistake, I think we’ll back you up’? No way,” Richard said. “My goal in my last year is to be very cautious, be prudent. I’m very cautious about tax increases, tax decreases.”
Amid the calls for Greitens to resign, Richard said his main focus is on guiding the Republican agenda through the Senate.
“Rest assured I’ve been through troubled waters before,” Richard said. “Have no fear.”
The No. 2 Republican in the Senate said he disagrees with the calls for resignation unless “more severe” information emerges.
“I’m not the judge or the jury,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe said. “We’re human. People make mistakes, and certainly there are several families involved in the current activity we’ve been hearing about. I feel for those families. I think they need to work it out. Certainly, if there is something that comes forward that is more severe or that changes the story line, I will have a different answer. But as we know the facts right now, I think it’s a situation that families need to work through.”
On Thursday, Greitens spokesman Parker Briden said the first lady was not in Missouri.
“She is on a vacation that has been planned since last fall,” Briden said.
It was unclear how long the vacation will last.
Sheena Greitens is a political science professor at the University of Missouri, but is not scheduled to teach a class this semester, a university spokeswoman said Thursday.
She’s expected to return in the fall, but she’s in the middle of a one-year postdoctoral fellowship that has been planned since she joined MU in January 2015, the spokeswoman said.
Sky Chadde of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report