The Tax Credit Review Commission held its first meeting in Jefferson City Wenesday. Governor Nixon opened the meeting with a charge to the 25-member group to have recommendations for him and the legislature by Thanksgiving.
“Specifically I’m calling on you to do three things. Determine which of our 61 tax credit programs are generating a good return on investment for our taxpayers, determine which tax credit programs are not generating a good return on investment, and provide me with fact-based recommendations for change,” Nixon told the group Wednesday.
Nixon says he does not intend to retract any of the tax credits the state has already committed for the coming years, which totals as much as $2.3 billion dollars over the next 7 years.
“The commission’s report will give us the best chance to sharpen our economic tools and affect rational reform now rather than facing irrational reform in January. The stakes are high and the clock is ticking. Missouri’s economy needs your help now. The hardworking taxpayers of our state need your help now. And quite frankly, I as you Governor, need your help now,” Nixon told the commission.
The money sewn up in tax credits has continued to grow as the rest of the budget shrinks; it’s expected to account for 8% of general revenue spending this fiscal year.
“You stand in front of a group like that and you say, ‘we are spending more on this section of our budget and it continues to grow, I mean up to 8% in the last few years, compared to other areas that have had to be trimmed.’ I puts I think in stark contrast the choices that are there,” Nixon told reporters.
While it’s clear which tax credits are using the most money, Nixon is even more interested in the impact that money then has.
“When you look at the sizes of these and the growth, clearly the housing credit and the historic (preservation tax credits) are the ones that have moved the most dramatically,” Nixon said.
Does Nixon think the legislators, many of them who will be starting their first term next year, will listen to the commission’s recommendations?
“I think folks that get elected to office come here to do things, not stop things. Like I said in there, the only way this is going to get done is with strong bipartisan efforts on all sides. We have Democrats and Republicans at the table and I expect throughout this entire process to keep it bipartisan. So I’m very hopeful we can get something done next year,” Nixon said.
Nixon believes this group can accomplish what the legislature has not been able to; make progress on the tax credit issue.
“Fact-based analysis has been missing from the debate in a deep sense. Independent factual analysis is important from an empowered and very diverse group,” Nixon said.
One of the co-chairs for the commission says he believes for every dollar in credits, the state should get a dollar back.