Tax reform sputters on Senate floor in final days of session

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It seems that the issue of tax reform will not be making it across the finish line this year.

The Senate on Monday took up HB 2540, what had been a tax reform measure put together and sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, but after reaching the Senate had been pared down from more than 400 pages to less than a dozen.

The bill still included a .4 percent cut to the individual income tax rate, and to offset the loss of revenue, the new substitute called for the phasing out of the federal income tax deduction.

Handling the bill was Sen. Bill Eigel, who had been the sponsor of a similar proposal in the Senate this year, but the Republican from Weldon Springs saw his legislation die this session as it has been held indefinitely in the Senate Committee on Fiscal Oversight. This version, he told his colleagues, was taken back to the very basic form.

The stripped down version, though relieved of the massive weight, still fell upon itself as the Senate continued to poke and prod the provisions still left before them.

Sen. Dave Schatz wanted an amendment that would allow voters to decide on the phasing in of a 10-cent increase to the state’s motor fuel tax. Schatz said he was disappointed that the fuel tax increase wasn’t in the final package, but Eigel responded by saying that if the amendment were added, he would pull the bill off the floor.

Still, others were upset with changes made on the floor that day. Sen. Jill Schupp wanted a provision regarding the Quill decision removed, and in response to that, Eigel removed a provision creating an earned income tax credit to aid low-income Missourians.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed was not happy with that change, saying that “for you to just eliminate that from your bill, it’s just absolutely wrong.”

Sen. Eigel acknowledged on the floor that he believed this to be a one or two-year effort, saying his true hope was to get the conversation started, and though he has accomplished that, he still ended up pulling the bill from the floor after a lengthy debate and several amendments and substitutes being discussed.

Before the Senate adjourned for the night, Eigel rose to speak to his colleagues, saying that what he had seen on Monday was disappointing to him, and that commitments had been broken.

“I do believe there are going to be consequences,” Eigel finished.

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 benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.