A State Senator who has earned a reputation as an opponent of the process awarding tax credits is making another attempt to make the process more transparent. Senator Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau) has railed, in the past, about tax credits that are part of much larger economic development bills, saying lawmakers can vote on the huge overall bills without having to vote up or down on the individual tax credits. Crowell has filibustered such bills in the past and might do it again this year.
“We’ll have to see how things progress,” said Crowell in an interview with the Missourinet. “My ultimate goal is to bring greater accountability and fiscal oversight to how we spend taxpayer resources.”
Crowell says that while he has run into legislative opposition in the past and expects more opposition this year, there is growing resentment against tax dollars being spent for projects he believes benefit the few. He says we are not even seeing returns on the economic development bills.
“Last session everyone – House leadership, the Governor, Senate leadership – said if we passed House Bill 191, which was an economic development tax credit bill, that we would create all these jobs,” said Crowell. “To date, DED – the Department of Economic Development – cannot point to one actual job that has been created because of the passage of House Bill 191.”
Crowell says many of the concerns about tax credits are expressed by the people he represents who don’t approve of cuts to higher education.
“The people that I represent back home, the citizens that are paying for all this, say, ‘Why in the world are we cutting SEMO [Southeast Missouri State University] education by $2.55 million while we’re giving the Kansas City Chiefs $25 million and a land assemblage tax credit $19 million?'”
Crowell has filed Senate Bill 728, which would subject Missouri’s tax credits to the General Assembly’s appropriation process.