By Carl Bearden, Executive Director – United For Missouri
During the second part of Missouri’s legislative session the Republican-super majorities in Jefferson City have a golden opportunity for maximizing the federal tax cuts. Now that our federal lawmakers have delivered this huge fiscal win for Missourians, it’s time for Missouri lawmakers to step up to the plate. If successful, this would return more than $100 million back into the pockets of Missourians by lowering electric bills 4-5%.
After years of talking about cutting taxes in DC, Donald Trump delivered landmark tax reform. These tax cuts will help Missouri families and businesses alike.
Among others, public utilities in Missouri are saving millions due to corporate tax rates being cut. Under Missouri law, those savings should be passed on to utility customers. Unfortunately, Missouri is still regulated by an outdated 100-year-old utility structure set of laws and it could take years for these savings to find their way to customers.
An official with the state’s Office of Public Counsel recently was quoted as saying they hope by the end of the year to determine exactly how much each utility should eventually give back to customers. With all due respect, this is garbage. That money belongs to Missourians and it needs to be back in their hands, stimulating our economy as soon as possible.
Thankfully conservative energy legislation has been filed that will return these savings directly to customers within 90 days of becoming law. It’s not often Missouri lawmakers can put more than $100 million back into the pockets of Missourians with a single vote.
After cutting electric rates for Missourians by 4-5%, the legislation would for the first time in Missouri cap the amount utilities could raise rates on Missourians over the next 5-10 years. According to the Associated Press, Missouri electric rates have risen by an average of 5.2% annually over the past decade. These unpredictable rate spikes are simply unsustainable for Missourians.
Senate Bill 564 and House Bill 2265 caps rate increases at an average annual rate of just 2.85% for Ameren and 3% for KCP&L. SB564 passed the Missouri Senate with an overwhelming bipartisan 25-6 vote. HB 2265 passed the House with a 110-22 vote.
The House bill is going through the Senate process. The Senate bill is on the House calendar and only a couple of votes away from going to the Governor’s desk. Both will force Missouri utilities to return more than $100 million to families and businesses. Legislators will hopefully see and understand the wisdom in making sure $100 million goes back into the pockets of Missourians and not sitting in the bank accounts of monopoly utilities.
State lawmakers have one chance this year to maximize the newly-passed federal tax cuts on behalf of their constituents. Please take time over the next week or two to urge your state representative to support HB 2265 and SB 564, so that more than $100 million is returned to customers and electric rates are cut by 4-5%.
The irony is not lost on me that our organization is asking Missouri legislators to follow D.C.’s lead, but when it comes to cutting taxes and lowering energy bills, that’s exactly what our friends in Jefferson City should do.
You can find information on both bills at http://www.unitedformissouri.org/?s=gridmodernization.