JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Senators, representatives and the picks of Governor Eric Greitens gathered in Room 750 of the Truman Building on Thursday afternoon for the first meeting of the Governor’s Committee for Fair, Simple and Low Taxes.
Their first meeting started late, as the three senators on the committee had been held up by another fruitless afternoon spent on legislation concerning ride-sharing companies operating in the state.
All committee members expressed excitement about looking into the state’s taxes and attempting to locate areas that could be changed, a sentiment perhaps best summed up by committee member and former Sen. Jason Crowell.
“I have come to sunset tax credits and chew bubblegum, and I’m all out of bubble gum,” he said.
After the members introduced themselves, Chairman Joel Walters spoke about the direction of the commission, citing four main goals established by the governor’s executive order:
- Compare Missouri’s tax credit programs and tax rates to those of other states
- Assess the economic impact of the existing state tax credit programs
- Assess the possibility of financing cuts to overall state tax rates with cuts to tax credit programs
- Submit comprehensive tax reform recommendations to the Governor no later than June 30, 2017.
Crowell made sure to point out to the committee that reports are not legislation, and noted that “this group out here has killed every report that has been drafted to date.”
“I think the most important thing is that our inquiry must be fact-based and thoughtful, and I hope we proceed with the notion that there is no program that should be considered untouchable,” Rep. Jay Barnes said. “We have a systematic review of every program, and we ask that proponents of each provide actual evidence of their effectiveness.”
While the initial meeting mostly served as a meet and greet, the committee members did vote on the number of subcommittees to be created, and what areas each one would focus on.
The committee unanimously voted to create three subcommittees on incentives, tax policy, and sales tax, each of which would look into the selected area and provide an economic analysis of the proposed areas. They did not, however, assign any committee members to the subcommittees during the public session.
The commission has been directed to host approximately four town halls, but the location and format of the town halls still have yet to be determined as well. In the end, it was decided that Vice Chairman Will Scharf would think about the suggestions made and come back with a proposal within seven days for the committee to vote on.
The committee spent nearly as much time in closed session as they did in the public session, but Rep. Elijah Haahr told reporters that nothing had been voted on during that session.