JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Senate reached an agreement on re-starting the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program on Wednesday evening, perfecting a bill capping Missouri’s match to the federal housing tax credits.
“Nobody is very happy at the end of this, which means we’re probably doing something right,” said one senator after a compromise was reached after 3.5 hours of deliberation and the threat of filibuster from members of the Conservative Caucus.
The agreement caps the tax credit at 72.5% and includes no allowance for workforce housing.
The bill, pre-filed in December by Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Andrew County, was amended in committee after senators from both parties expressed a need to raise the number from 70%, as filed, before final passage of the bill.
“This seems to be what we’ve agreed to to get this program up and going and send it on its way,” Hegeman said.
Through the program, private developers build and manage low-income and senior housing. Missouri does not have its own housing program otherwise, as mentioned by several senators.
A few amendments were offered by Sen. Andrew Koenig, moving around the number for low-income and workforce housing. They were not approved by the body. After two amendments from Sen. Koenig failed, Koenig asked the floor to be held to prepare to filibuster.
Members of the Conservative Caucus expressed concern that the housing program was socialist in nature, even quoting British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who said, “The problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
The program, passed in 1990, was signed into law by then-Governor John Ashcroft and ended in 2017 by a series of recess appointment by then-Governor Eric Greitens.
During the almost four hours of inquiry, Sens. Kiki Curls and Jill Schupp discussed the benefits the tax credit program has enabled in their districts, providing much-needed, safe housing to seniors and low-income families. Over 100,000 Missourians sit on wait lists for housing enabled by the tax credit.
Missouri is one of 35 states with a housing tax credit program. Curls shared that unlike other states, Missouri does not have a public housing development program.
“This is our housing program,” Curls said, responding to comments made by other senators about how Missouri has a higher allotment of housing credits available.
Some Republican members continued speaking on their opposition to the bill for philosophical, as well as political, reasons, referring to personal financial responsibility being needed to cut the need for public, or publically-enabled, housing.
“It’s easy to keep making the same mistakes when you know other people are going to make up for it,” Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin said.
Senators also discussed everything from bureaucracy to Title IX and beyond until the compromise was reached, the bill was perfected, and the Senate adjourned just before 6:00 p.m.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.