From the desk of Senator Jason Crowell:
Missouri Sets New Record in Tax Credit Spending for Fiscal Year 2012, Sen. Jason Crowell Calls for Reform
JEFFERSON CITY – State Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, today renewed his calls for tax credit reform following the release of figures from the Missouri Department of Revenue showing the state set a new record for tax credit redemptions in Fiscal Year 2012 of $629 million. The amount surpassed the previous record of $585 million from Fiscal Year 2009.
As the state made drastic cuts to its budget, notably in education funding, it redeemed more than $629 million in tax credits, on top of the more than ONE BILLION dollar unfunded liability the Department of Revenue says we owe in currently issued but yet redeemed tax credits.
“We just spent the last session crafting one of the most difficult budgets in decades. The public got to really see many lawmakers’ priorities, and it wasn’t pretty,” said Sen. Jason Crowell. “Members of the House proposed taking away health care for blind people. The governor wanted to gut higher education for the third year in a row. Yet there was almost zero discussion about reforming tax credits, which cost taxpayers more than half a billion dollars. It’s madness.”
Tax credit redemptions have grown over the last decade, from $143 million in 1999 to more than $629 million last year. The two largest tax credit programs are Low Income Housing and Historic Preservation. For Fiscal Year 2012, Missouri spent $164 million on Low Income Housing tax incentives, more than the budget for the Department of Conservation and the Department of Agriculture combined.
“We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds a year to line the pockets of a handful of wealthy land developers,” said Sen. Crowell. “But reports have consistently shown these credits do not create the jobs we’ve been promised and have a negative return on investment. We know they’re a bad deal, and yet last week, the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization asked for $113 million in state and local tax incentives over 25 years to build an entertainment area called Ballpark Village in downtown St. Louis. Our schools are underfunded. Our roads are crumbling. But taxpayers are supposed to cough up $113 million so one of the most successful major league baseball teams in the country can build a Ballpark Village that they said they would years ago without taxpayer subsidies when taxpayers gave them tens of millions to build their new stadium.”
“Lawmakers must stand up to the special interests that have hijacked the General Assembly and enact meaningful tax credit reform,” Sen. Crowell continued. “We’re doing long-term damage to the fiscal stability of our state. We’re digging ourselves into a hole we will struggle for decades to get out of. We need to address the elephant in the room. We need to start fixing what is clearly a broken tax credit system and a misalignment of our priorities.”
Stunning that Missouri continues to give away half-a-billion in tax dollars to cronies and pals. To hell with education and to hell with the roads (although I have MAJOR problems with MoDot waste!), let’s save them historimacal buildings, pay for ballpark village, upgrade the Jones dome!