A special commission appointed by the governor will recommend changes to the state’s tax credit programs, but that doesn’t mean the legislature has to accept the proposal.

State lawmakers have struggled with down tax revenues for years. With federal budget help fading away, state lawmakers could face a budget shortfall that totals as much as $700 million dollars.

Rep. Tim Flook, a Republican from Liberty, says budget problems might force legislators to take seriously the recommendations of the Tax Credit Review Commission.

“What I don’t know is how far they’ll get along on agreeing to parts of it,” Flook says, “because it involves some tough decisions and it involves telling a lot of vested interest groups that we’re going to have to make changes that they don’t like.”

Tax credits provided by 61 programs totaled $372 million in Fiscal Year 2001. Eight years later, they had ballooned to $584 million.

Sen. Matt Bartle, a Republican from Lee’s Summit who served on the commission with Flook, agrees looming budget cuts might force the legislature’s hand.

“Substantial cuts to K through 12 and higher ed are coming; and Medicaid, too,” Bartle says. “I think that people who were formerly completely closed to making substantial changes in tax credit programs are going to be rethinking it when they’re having to deal with the anger from voters over cuts to fundamental services.”

Both Bartle and Flook will not return to the state legislature. Bartle faces term limits. Flook is returning to his private law practice.

The commission was appointed by Governor Nixon. It included 25 members from various backgrounds. It hasn’t issued its final report. Once completed, it could recommend trimming up to $200 million in tax credits. It recommends a cap of $75 million on the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, which has grown far larger than anticipated, topping $200 million a couple of years ago before the legislature imposed a $140 million per year cap.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:25 MP3]