Governor’s tax credit cutting committee starts to take form

Kraus presser

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sen. Will Kraus, the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, was one of three senators at the end of last week to be named to Gov. Eric Greitens’ newly formed committee to audit the state’s tax credit system.

Greitens says the Governor’s Committee on Simple, Fair and Low taxes will examine ways to deal with lower than expected revenue numbers over the last year and help Missouri become more a fiscally responsible state.

“I’m excited to see that the governor’s on board with reforming tax credits, and I’m looking forward to helping find a way to make taxes simpler and lower for Missouri taxpayers,” Kraus said.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard also named Sen. Dan Hegeman and Sen. Andrew Koenig to the governor’s committee. Koenig is a new senator, but he served in the House for the last eight years, and chaired the House Ways and Means Committee for the last six. He has long been opposed to additional tax credits.

“I’ve been pushing tax policy in the right direction for six years,” Koenig said. “I want to cut out corporate welfare and make sure we have the lowest tax rate and keep a broad base that treats everybody the same.”

House Speaker Todd Richardson also named several high ranking Republicans in the Hosue to the committee. Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, House Economic Development Committee Chairwoman Holly Rehder and Rules on Administrative Oversight Chairman Jay Barnes will sit on the committee. In a statement, Richardson said he had faith these representatives would help improve tax policy for the better.

“[They] understand the need to keep our tax burden low for Missouri families, and the importance of having tax policy that will make our state an attractive location to do business and create jobs,” Richardson said. “As a legislative body we’re ready to work with the governor to update our tax system so that it benefits hard-working Missourians and doesn’t cater to special interests.”

While the governor has not yet named his own representatives to this committee, Kraus believes the committee will prioritize fiscal conservatism and while also ensuring necessary benefits remain in place. While he stressed the use of a return on investment style model to judge the state’s various tax credits, he added that model would not work for all credit programs.

“Not all tax credits are designed to be a return on investment,” he said. “There are some charitable tax credits that are very minor in dollars. Those tax credits are not the ones we will be going after. We’re going after the ones that are $10 million, $20 million and up.”

The activities of the committee may overlap with some of the legislative work. Koenig in particular has a bill that would make massive cuts into many of the state’s tax credit programs, including the low-income housing tax credit and the historical preservation tax credit. Kraus says that may cause some overlap as to what recommendations they put forth, since the passage of that bill could factor into their decision. Greitens has called for the committee to submit a report of their findings by June 30.

“If we’re going to act on that it will be post session time,” Kraus said. ”There might be some movement on Sen. Koenig’s bill and then we could come back and do another bill next year. The question is how fast can we get something done and will it be one bill or a series of bills.”

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