A group of Missouri mayors is voicing its opposition to a state commission that’s moving to do away with some tax credits.
27 city heads released a strongly worded letter yesterday condemning the commission’s decision to scrap tax credits that are used to build low income housing.
The letter called the action a unilateral move that “overturned the will of a democratically elected Legislature”. It said discontinuing the tax credits would harm the poor, as well as seniors, homeless veterans and people with special needs.
Missouri lawmakers established the tax credit program in 1990.
The correspondence is a response to a 6-2 vote by the Missouri Housing Development Commission last Friday to cut state funding of the credits.
The move was orchestrated by Republican Governor Eric Greitens and allies on the commission, including GOP Attorney General Josh Hawley. In a statement Friday, Greitens said “for every dollar that went into the program, only about 42 to 55 cents actually went to building housing for poor people”.
Mayor Sly James of Kansas City had previously organized a gathering to take place Monday of city heads from across the state to discuss issues that affect municipalities.
But the commission’s move to dump the subsidies, known as the State Low Income Housing Tax Credit, was clearly the dominant concern that emerged from the meeting.
At a news conference afterward, Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said his community is under pressure to supply low income housing. “I’ve had a waiting list on affordable, accessible, disabled housing and senior housing in south Columbia that’s safe,” said Treece. “If there is a problem with the program, they need to amend it, but not end it.”
The commission was acting on findings from a group Governor Greitens formed over the summer. The Governor’s Committee on Simple, Fair and Low Taxes issued recommendations in June.
The committee, which is largely composed of current and former Republican state lawmakers, suggested converting the low-income housing tax credits into a low interest loan program. It said doing so would save taxpayers up to $250 million over 10 years.
One GOP commission member, Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson, voted against the majority. He said the change would have a “dramatic effect” on low income housing.
Another vote is needed on the tax credit to make any position official, and on is expected at the commission’s next meeting December 19th in Jefferson City.
In the letter to the commission, the mayors said rents would skyrocket by $200-$400 per unit without the state tax credit. It further claimed that the cut would have an adverse impact on cities. The letter said, “local economies will suffer from lower tax revenues and loss of jobs created from construction and operation of these developments”.
The correspondence was hand signed by most of the 27 mayors who attended the Monday meeting in Columbia.
The group also formally identified itself as a body during its conference. It voted to form a non-profit 501(c)(6) organization called Missouri Mayors United for Progress.