Not satisfied with a two-year tax cut, House Republicans have advanced a bill that would permanently cut the state income tax by half a percentage point.
House Republican leadership initially proposed cutting the state income tax rate by half a percentage point; from 6% to 5.5%. The original proposal tied the cut to the money state government is receiving from the federal government as part of the federal economic stimulus efforts. It would last two years, expiring when the federal money ran out.
That proposal, by itself, created tension between Republicans who sought to return part of the federal economic stimulus or budget stabilization funds to Missourians and Democrats who favored using the funds to keep from cutting state programs and services, because revenue has fallen during the recession. The amendment to make the tax cut in HCS HB 22 permanent took political tension between the two parties to another level.
House Minority Leader Paul LeVota (D-Independence) charges Republicans with pushing a political agenda by pushing for the tax cut.
"Mr. Speaker, what you see here is the culmination of the circus that this session has become," LeVota tells colleagues during House floor debate. "Here’s the main event: the GOP Desperation Act of 2009."
LeVota notes House Republicans first considered rejecting the money, then put together a large capital improvement bill, before scaling it back in favor of a billion dollar tax cut.
Republican Rep. Tim Jones (R-Eureka) has his own answer to criticism from Democrats.
"Americans and Missourians are tired of being taxed from cradle to grave," Jones responds during the debate. "Mr. Speaker, Republicans in the majority party celebrate the 4th of July, the Democrats celebrate April 15th."
The bill now returns to a Senate that is said to be skeptical of the bill.