BY TRACI GLEASON, MISSOURI BUDGET PROJECT
As the Missouri General Assembly settles into its work, and Governor Greitens prepares to deliver his second State of the State Address, an unsettling reality faces our state. The Missouri Budget Project projects that our state will face a budget shortfall of more than $240 million in fiscal year 2019.
Despite intense rhetoric, decades of tax cuts have failed Missourians, and made our state’s tax structure unfair to working families. What’s more, corporate tax giveaways and loopholes have undermined Missouri’s ability to fund education, infrastructure, and other services that build strong communities.
A few thoughts to keep in mind as we delve into the 2018 legislative session:
- Decades of tax cuts cost Missouri more than $1 billion each year. (This is in addition to the cost of tax credits).
- When adjusted for inflation, the real purchasing power of state GR remains lower than it was in 2008.
- What’s more, the need for services have increased, with more Missouri children enrolled in the K-12 system, more full-time college students in Missouri’s public college & university system, and more seniors accessing health care through Medicaid. So that purchasing power is spread even more thinly.
- Not only have investments in higher education declined, as have MO Rx and home- and community-based services, but Missouri remains far below national averages in many metrics, including foster care reimbursement, eligibility for child care assistance, and public health.
- By nearly every measure, Missouri invests less in critical public services today than it did three decades ago.
- The implementation of the Senate Bill 509 tax cuts (passed in 2014) will only make matters worse.
We cannot cut our way to prosperity. To build a stronger economy, with good-paying jobs that allow Missourians to provide a better future for their families, we must invest in Missourians.
We can do this by:
- Repealing provisions of Senate Bill 509 that have not gone into effect
- Modernizing our tax code and closing loopholes, like:
- Ending the timely filing giveaway for companies
- Enacting the Marketplace Fairness Act & other mechanisms to respond to a changing economy
- Fixing the corporate income tax apportionment hole
- Implementing a new, affordable income tax structure with a state earned income tax credit (EITC)
By preventing the “fiscal cliff” of Senate Bill 509, closing loopholes and modernizing our tax structure, we can begin to build a stronger Missouri, and to create the prosperity that ALL Missourians deserve.