JEFFERSON CITY - The chief sponsor of an $80 million omnibus Senate tax-cut bill said he will not bring it back to the floor until next week.
Sen. Harry Wiggins, D-Kansas City, said Wednesday he has been negotiating with senators opposed to a provision that would allow up to a $2,500 state income tax deduction for parents who send their children to private and parochial high schools.
"Nothing comes easy in life and particularly in the Missouri Senate," he said.
The bill was filibustered last week while several senators raised strong objections to the deduction. Wiggins has a majority of the Senate in favor of his bill, but he can't move it to a vote due to Senate rules that allow senators unlimited debate time. Unless every senator agrees to stop debating the bill, a vote will never occur.
Despite this obstacle, Wiggins said he is confident the bill will gain first-round approval next week.
"I think it's all going to work out," he said.
Sen. Joe Maxwell, D-Mexico, doesn't share Wiggins' confidence. Maxwell opposes the school-expenses deduction because he says it is too narrow. He said Wednesday he also opposes the 19 other special-interest tax breaks in the bill and wants to instead see a broad-based tax cut that will help all families.
If the special interest provisions of the bill are not changed, Maxwell said it will never be approved by the Senate.
Majority Leader Ed Quick, D-Liberty, predicted if Wiggins' bill stalls, the only tax relief this session will go to low-income elderly and disabled residents. The Senate has already approved a bill to do that and sent it to the House.
Quick said he favors a larger tax cut this session, but if none is enacted, excess state revenues will be refunded to income taxpayers under the state constitution's Hancock Amendment.
"From where I sit, I don't feel the citizens as a whole can lose either way," Quick said.