JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, is banking on the idea that his fellow legislators can see the bigger picture and be bold in an effort to reform Missouri’s taxes.
And it seems that the Republican senator has now found a partner is his mission, as Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, has joined with Eigel, and will be handling the bill on the House side.
The issues put forward in SB 617, or the Missouri Economic Relief Act (MERA), include a number of methods that could be used to overhaul the state’s tax plan, from increasing the motor fuel tax, capping tax credits, and a reduction of the state’s income tax. (Read the bill here.)
Many might have concerns about such a large packaged plan which spans over such. A broad range of reform measures, but Sen. Eigel and Rep Fitzwater both believe that this is the way to truly frame the conversation, stating that alone, these measures would most likely fail.
“We’re looking for ways to make Missouri more economically competitive with the surrounding states,” Eigel said. “The reason I think that any Missouri worker should care about this bill is because right now that Missouri worker — from a variety of different tax sources, be it income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes — are sending more of their money to Jefferson City than they ever have before. I’m a big believer that we can make our government a bit more efficient, that we can do a better job with the money that’s coming in, and we can actually ease that burden on the Missouri taxpayer.”
“This is by no means the perfect bill that’s gonna get passed as is, but we’re gonna have a long discussion about what this looks like,” Fitzwater said.
“This isn’t just a haphazard, ‘Let’s cut taxes’, and that’s it without any vision going forward. But let’s cover a multitude of issues that we all agree are issues in and among themselves, that can’t get done in and of themselves.”
The two legislators said they have spoken with the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tem, as well as the heads of the budget committees in both chambers. Both Eigel and Fitzwater agreed that they would need to work with the budget chairman and have their support to push the legislation across the finish line this year, but they say that so far, the colleagues they have spoken with have been receptive to at least having the discussion.
“I know I have colleagues in the House and the Senate that have their own proposals; I talked to the governor’s office yesterday (and) they also have a proposal coming out,” Fitzwater said.
Watch the two legislators’ press conference in full here:
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.