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Opinion: Vetoing HB 1854 was the right thing to do

   

Governor Mike Parson has been a champion for economic development and infrastructure since becoming Missouri’s top elected official. From the day he assumed the office, his message has been clear and consistent in advocating for business retention and growth and for critical infrastructure to keep Missouri cities, towns, and villages safe and functional.

The governor’s veto of HB 1854 is further proof of his commitment to these priorities. In his July 14 veto letter, Parson rightly states that HB 1854 “contains thirty-seven (37) different subjects, many of which did not receive a public hearing” and were not “germane” to the original purpose of the bill.

One such subject was the modification of statutory requirements to establish a Community Improvement District (CID) and Transportation Development District (TDD). Under HB 1854, imposing additional sales tax within the district would be decided by all qualified voters within the municipality in which the CID or TDD is located, not just voters within the proposed district boundaries.

Presumably, HB 1854 sought to provide more government transparency and accountability to taxpayers. In July, 2019 the City of Independence created the Independence Economic Development and Incentives Commission (EDIC) to do just that. Chapter 99 of Missouri statute requires certain municipalities to create a nine-person commission prior to the adoption of an ordinance creating a redevelopment area, plan, or project. Six members are appointed by the chief elected officer with consent of the governing body, two members are appointed by the school district in which the redevelopment area, plan, or project is located, and one member is appointed by all other districts levying ad valorem taxes within the area, such as the county or library district.

Chapter 99 requires certain cities to have Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commissions but does not require commissions for other economic incentives such as CID, TDD, NID, Chapter 100 Industrial Development Bonds, and Chapter 353 tax abatement. Independence took a proactive approach by establishing the Independence Economic Development and Incentives Commission. The commission reviews all applications seeking tax abatement or creation of special taxing jurisdictions and is appointed under the exact same requirements as outlined in Chapter 99, ensuring that all affected taxing jurisdictions are represented.

The Missouri Legislature’s goals of government transparency and taxpayer accountability can be achieved by following the lead of Independence and applying the requirements of Chapter 99 to all redevelopment areas, plans, and projects, as Independence has done. Redevelopment tools like CID and TDD have proven successful in retaining and attracting businesses as well as improving and maintaining critical infrastructure.