The major economic development bill that legislative leaders hope to send to the governor by the middle of next month is in trouble. Some senators who think the state has gone overboard in giving some tax breaks are getting in the way.
Tax credits are given by the state to businesses and historic preservationists who are allowed to forego payment of some taxes if they use that money to create jobs. Suspicions have been growing among some lawmakers that the program is not really creating the number of jobs promised or generating the new taxes that exceed the income the state is giving up.
Senator Brad Lager of Maryville is one of several senators who object to the tax credits in the economic development bill, saying, "We have become drunk on tax credits." He and the other senators are going to demand a vote on every tax credit section of the proposed economic development bill.
Senator Matt Bartle of Lee’s Summit, a self-described recovering tax credit addict, says the state cannot afford to weaken its income base at a time like this: "We have an economic crisis. State government revenue is crashing and all the sudden everybody that may potentially be cut as a result of declining government revenues is all of the sudden waking up to reality that there are a group of people in our state that are getting $700-million in tax credits" which he and others say are done largely at the bidding of lobbyists and accountants hired by businesses that can afford to be represented at the Capitol.
Lager has bluntly told supporters of the so-called jobs bill that the bill will not be passed unless it contains meaningful reform of the tax credit system.