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Blueprint For Missouri

The Rockin’ Conservative kept hearing about a “Blueprint for Missouri” but had little luck finding any details on the plan.  We now have the bullet points!  Thanks Donna Lichtenegger.

Blueprint for Missouri

 Protecting Missouri Taxpayers

  • Balanced budget with no new taxes
  • County and school debt disclosure bill
  • Taxpayer Protection Act
  • Criminal justice reform

Creation [Sic] Missouri Jobs

  • Workers Compensation and Second Injury Fund Reform
  • Employment Law Reform
  • Missouri Entrepreneur Virtual Resource Network
  • Prevailing wage reform
  • Tort reform
    • Joint & several
    • Loser pays

Reforming Missouri Schools

  • Foundation formula fix
  • Turner Fix and tuition tax credits for unaccredited districts
  • Teacher Quality Act
  • Charter school expansion

Defending Missouri Values

  • Pro-life conscience bills
  • Review of Missouri’s Mandatory reporter law
  • Expanded college savings plans
  • Driver’s license in English
  • Voter ID
  • Veterans Home funding

Would be wonderful to update MOGOP.org with this list, more details, and links to the related bills.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Economy, Education, Republican, Taxes

 

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Also On FBI’s Most Wanted List: Blueprint For Missouri

As scarce as details on the Missouri Caucus, we have a new entry into the cloudy world of Missouri Politics.

This tidbit and tease also came in the most recent Capitol Reports from Cape County’s Representatives: It is “The Blueprint For Missouri”.  I suspect that’s something akin to the “Contract With America of 1996”.

There are several issues the House will debate during the 2012 Legislative Session.  The principle agenda here in the Missouri House is called the Blueprint for Missouri. The Blueprint is our plan to move Missouri forward. The program rests on four important issues: protecting taxpayers, creating jobs, reforming schools and protecting our values.

And, I say ‘tease’ because they must be teasing the plan and preparing the grand press release for… …say… …2013.

I searched the webernets for ‘Blueprint For Missouri’.  Many, many pages of links were returned, so I reviewed the entries on the first 5 pages of Google links — 50 in all.  From that I opened 13 web pages that looked promising, and the actual blueprint was only mentioned here and here and here and here and here and here.

What I didn’t find was an official Missouri House, Senate, GOP or Republican web page or press release describing in detail the bullet points in the “Blueprint For Missouri”.  Many of the pages were articles with vague descriptions of the purported document, and only one web page had what may or may not be a comprehensive list… …assuming the MO GOP was kind enough to share it with them.

Hey Republicans; how about we get the details of this Blueprint out on, say, MOGOP.org?!?! …along with a detail list of the non-tentative locations of the caucuses.  I’m sure there are several issues on the Blueprint for which Missouri activists could lend their support!

 

h/t vanpeltsales.com

 

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Activism, Republican

 

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MO Legislature Has Innovative Idea To Spur Job Creation

Yes! In two of the Capitol Reports received via e-mail from Cape County’s state Representatives, it is confirmed!  Missouri has an innovative idea to spur job creation!  Are you ready?!?!

They’re gonna make a list.

Stop clapping.  Hold the applause.  Hang on to your panties.

From the Capitol Reports of Wayne Wallingford and Ellen Brandom:

Putting Missourians back to work will be a priority again this session.  Last session, we took several steps to create jobs.  We cut taxes on small businesses adding new employees, eliminated the franchise tax and adopted several measures to improve the business climate.  But with an unemployment rate still above 8%, there is still work to be done.

One innovative idea to spur job creation is the Entrepreneur Virtual Resource Network.  This new program would provide resources to the Department of Economic Development for a website that pools the information needed to start a small business in the state.

Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of job creation, but they often need assistance in navigating the regulatory hoops necessary to create their business from scratch.  This website will give them a one-stop shop on how to get their idea to the marketplace.

At least they’re saving money and time by collaborating on the text of their Capitol Reports (or Leadership is writing them).

h/t www.clotureclub.com/

Now, I’m all for getting information out via the Interwebs; that’s how I make my living.  But to claim that making a long list of the laws, rules, and regulations that stand in the way of starting or expanding a business in Missouri will create jobs is laughable.

Here’s a better idea.

  • Go ahead and make the list, but save the time and effort of creating the web site
  • Then, order the list by necessity of the law, rule, regulation from greatest to least
  • Finally, write and pass a bill to repeal all the laws, rules, and regulations on the bottom half of the list

There you have it.  One half of the red tape that ties down job creators is cut.  Missouri is job friendly.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Bureaucrat, Capitalism, Free Market

 

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Happy New… …40,000 Laws

As New Year’s Eve passed, news stories started running to remind us that 40,000 new Local, State, and Federal laws had gone into effect — likely 39,999 attacks on our freedoms.

I assumed some of those laws were from Missouri, so in an e-mail, I suggested to Cape Girardeau County’s Missouri State Legislators that they include the list of new Missouri Laws be included in their next weekly Capitol Report e-mails.

I got a quick lesson, compliments of Missouri Senator Jason Crowell, about the Missouri Constitution.  He was kind enough to have his Legislative Assistant, Ryan Nonnemaker, provide some good information on Missouri’s new laws.

First, Missouri Laws, when enacted without an Emergency Clause, always go into effect on August 28th.  That was my Constitutional lesson for the day.

Next, he provided a link to the Missouri Senate Web Site that listed all the ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-SIX new House and Senate originated bills that were Truly Agreed and Finally Passed.

How about, in 2012, we have a NET REDUCTION of 166 laws?!?!

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Constitution, Courts And The Law

 

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Who Would Oppose ‘No More Tax Forms’?

One of the bonuses for getting out of the world of the Income Tax is that, with consumption taxes, you don’t fill out any forms at the end of the year.  My 2010 Tax filing for the State Of Missouri included the forms:

  • MO-1040h/t wfpl.net
  • MO-A
  • Add’l Dependents
  • From 1040 (Federal)
  • Schedule A (Federal)

My Federal Income Tax filing include the forms:

  • Form 1040
  • Schedule A
  • Schedule D
  • Schedule E,p2
  • Form 5695
  • Schedule M
  • Capital Loss Carryforward Worksheet
  • Tax Payments Worksheet
  • Charitable Contributions Worksheet
  • Student Loan Worksheet
  • Carryover Worksheet

Of course, there’s no way the average American knows all the forms to be completed and either uses a program to complete their taxes or seeks the services of a professional.  Costs, including fees for electronic filing and direct deposits, exceed $150 per year.

Get rid of income taxes; get rid of all those forms!

Enter United For Missouri, Let The Voters Decide, and Art Laffer (who must have been a zygote when he was cheif economist for President Reagan).  These groups are working in Missouri to end the Income Tax in favor of a State Consumption (Sales) Tax.  There is extensive information available on their web sites about the benefits of the switch to a Consumption Tax.

But, the usual big government / big money / deep pocket forces are lining up against what’s best for Missouri and America.  A report from John McMillen about the opponents to the plan crossed my e-mail today:

Wednesday night 11/2/11. Just got back from St. Louis…”Let Voters Decide” held a conference at the DoubleTree Hotel conference room in Chesterfield, on the 2012 initiative to replace Missouri’s income tax with an increased sales tax.

Art Laffer, Reagan’s chief economic adviser, dubbed the father of supply side economics, was guest speaker. Doctor Laffer had reviewed the analysis of the “Let Voters Decide” proposal and was highly complementary of the proposal and very excited about what it will do to bring business incentives and a job growth environment back to the state of Missouri.

Missouri currently ranks 48th (that’s 2nd from last) for economic growth among all states in our nation. We can not continue allowing this current corrupt income tax system to be used by politicians as mechanism to pick winners and losers, rewarding their political backers and donors through tax credits, and special tax loop holes for their lobbying friends while conversely punishing the rest of us taxing (forcing from us) what we EARN all in order to advance their political agenda.

Dr. Laffer was very optimistic that the “Tax Relief for Missourians” initiative making it to the 2012 ballot and being voted in by the people.

However, this is going to be a hard fight. There is heavy opposition mounting to keep the people’s earnings subject to the will of state politicians, instead of the rightful owners of those earnings… the people who earn it.

Claire McCaskill’s 2008 campaign manager has joined forces with the opposition group “the Missouri Budget Project” and is putting together a coalition of opposition forces mimicking our “United for Missouri’s Future” by adopting the name “Coalition for Missouri’s Future”…. one thing is for certain, Missouri’s future and the future of Missourians is definitely at stake.

This new coalition is made up of Chambers of Commerce in some areas, AARP, Missouri School Board Association, the Teachers Union, Missouri Broadcasters Association, Missouri Realtors Association.

Thousands of Missouri citizens, members of these organizations will be sadly misinformed and scared into refusing to listen to both sides to make a rational logical decision.

In addition to this, there will be boat loads of special interest money from the usual left wing sources flooding our state to defeat this measure.

Dr. Laffer is correct. The entire political landscape of the nation will be focused on this battle. We have the opportunity for Missouri to be the first state in the union to abolish the income tax that taxes what YOU earn, and replace it with a tax on what YOU choose to SPEND. YOU pay your tax when YOU VOLUNTARILY choose to SPEND; NOT through COERCION FROM AN ALL POWERFUL STATE.

Jim Moody is the chief lobbyist and spokesperson for the Missouri Budget project. Mr. Moody is a former republican Missouri House member and budget committee chairman under Ashcroft. This of course always heavily emphasized in media releases and is touted to imply serious credibility.

However, one of the chief proponent spokesmen for this initiative is Carl Bearden, also a former republican House member and former speaker pro tem and also a former chairman of the House Budget Committee who was term limited out in 2007. But this highly credible item is never mentioned in any press reports on this controversial and extremely critical issue.

Mr. Bearden has formed a coalition of United for Missouri’s Future, Missouri Club for Growth, and Let Voters Decide.

Here’s an AP press release telling only one side of this issue which is typically the case. The central message is their usual false assertions that getting rid of the income tax and replacing it with an increase in state sales tax on a broadened tax base is: “regressive” “hurts the poor and the elderly” “unfair” “bad idea” “decreases revenues” etc, etc. this is their usual tired worn out rhetorical talking points which are all blatantly false because they ignore offsetting positive features in the proposal that neutralize or eliminate these negative assertions and assumptions.

The only way we can win our freedom from the evil debilitating effects of the income tax is for all grass roots conservative organizations to join ranks with “Let Voters Decide” stand up and fight back against this well funded, well connected, media favored, deceptive opposition coalition that gets diverted funds from various unions, liberal progressive donors, and front groups created with George Soros funding.

It will take a cooperative active network of like minded conservatives to educate and spread the facts to our friends, family, and neighbors.

I appreciate the opportunity to share as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the Story” with facts and data that exposes the truth so YOU CAN DECIDE intelligently for yourself.

Check out these sources to do some research on your own, if you haven’t already.

Democrats and certain establishment Republicans crave big government power and graft.  They will forever fight against true simplification of the tax structure, and it’s up to Conservatives and Libertarians to join the battle to complete this mission.


 
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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Congress, Taxes

 

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Jason Crowell: Senate Passes a Taxpayer First Jobs Package

By Missouri State Senator Jason Crowell (jcrowell@senate.mo.gov)

Attention Shifts to See What the House Does

h/t www.unfaircompetitiontradesecretscounsel.com

Over the past few weeks, I have shared with you how Missouri had the opportunity to make September’s Extraordinary Session a “Taxpayer and Missouri Jobs First” Special Session.  And because you demanded the right legislation be passed, the Senate listened and passed a bill that put job creation and the Missouri taxpayer first.  Your calls and emails led to the Senate scrapping the special interest first plan and passing Wednesday a jobs bill that begins making government live within its means and ties incentives directly to jobs created.

In the past, the state has subsidized activity because of promised jobs.  The special interests worked hard lobbying and giving to campaigns and convinced legislators that their tax credits would create jobs and enhance economic development.  This influence led to politicians giving out hundreds of millions of your hard-earned tax dollars to Low Income Housing tax credits, Historic Preservation tax credits and Land Assemblage tax credits.  However, while the awarding of tax credits increased over the last 13 years by 430.8 percent, equaling $545 million in 2011, the promised jobs have never been created.

That is because subsidized activity not tied to job creation fails to create jobs.  All those tax credits did was line the pockets of wealthy developers who, with the help of the politicians, conned the Missouri taxpayer.  It is clear that instead of job growth, Missouri’s return on investment was 21 cents for every dollar spent on Historic Preservation tax credits and 11 cents for every dollar spent on Low Income Housing tax credits.  “Give me a dollar and I will give you 21 cents or 11 cents back.”  You would never do that with your own money, and you should not allow the politicians to do such with your tax dollars.

Yet this has been the state’s economic plan, and it almost passed again.  For example, when redeveloping Schultz School Senior Housing in Cape Girardeau, we were told that if we subsidized the project, jobs would come and economic development would occur.  However, after spending $373,000 an apartment unit in Low Income Housing and Historic Preservation tax credits, permanent jobs did not.  Giving $16.7 million of your tax dollars to rehab 45 units for 11 – 21 cents on the dollar return is outrageous.  Over the course of the last two weeks there was an awakening that occurred with State Senators; they listened to your demands for responsible use of your hard earned tax dollars.  “We must tie incentives to job creation, not activities that may or may not create jobs.”

The removal of $300 million in Aerotropolis warehouse tax credits from the special session is acknowledgement of this key principle.  It is wrong, with our country facing massive manufacturing job losses to China, to make the central component of a “Made in Missouri” jobs plan the subsidization of the importation of China-made goods.  The battle now goes to the House where House leaders, who put their campaign accounts above Missourians, have said we must give $300 million to China importation warehouses. [Emphasis Added]

The bill that passed the Senate, which House leaders oppose, also included real tax credit reforms saving taxpayers $947 million over 15 years.  It caps and sunsets both the Historic Preservation tax credit and Low Income Housing tax credit.  The reforms also include clawbacks for failing to create jobs.  We have the ability to recapture any tax credits given out for noncompliance with the requirements, which specifically include creating the new jobs promised.  We have succeeded in the Senate, and with your continued support and help, we can win the House and beat back the special interests and developers House leaders covet.

Your humble blogger agrees that there has been great success, but yet, there still lurks great danger.  Buried in the verbiage of the Senate passed bill is language that describes how areas can be ‘blighted’ for their ‘potential’ to produce green energy.  Read here.

I implore you to continue to contact your Missouri Representatives asking them to kill this bill and start fresh with a bill to truly reform Missouri’s Tax Credit process… …with out the Green Energy / Agenda 21 Trojan Horse.

h/t senate.mo.gov

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns.  Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459.  You may write to me at Jason Crowell; Missouri Senate; State Capitol; Jefferson City, MO  65101, or e-mail me at: jcrowell@senate.mo.gov or visit me on the web at http://www.senate.mo.gov/crowell.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2011 in Free Market, Government Waste, Taxes

 

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Kinder Must Go?

On 8/26/11, The Missouri Record (MR) blog published a post entitled “Kinder Must Go”.

The assertion is intially based on the claim by a Penthouse Pet, stripper, and pantless bar waitress that Peter Kinder behaved inappropriately.  Like millions of American males, Kinder frequented a strip club, and now, he finds himself involved in a he-said/she-said situation.

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

Then, a GOP supporter and major donor tells Politico that he (the donor) is so principled and supportive of the Republican Party, that if Kinder runs for governor, he will support Jay Nixon who belongs to and supports the party that defends the murder of a million unborn humans per year.

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

Then, according to the MR post, Politico reports that the Missouri State GOP may pull support for Kinder.  The Missouri State GOP denies the claim by Politico.

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

The Missouri Record reports that Kinder’s campaign sees a Left Wing Rag Magazine pumping an unsubstantiated story from a Penthouse Pet, stripper, and pantless bar waitress as a Democrat ploy to distract from the failed record of the current Democrat Governor.

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

Without citing any poll, we read that Kinder “was never in danger of actually defeating Governor Nixon”

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

Then, we must be concerned that, a few days before the election, the opposition might run ads that lie about Kinder as a Republican Gubernatorial Candidate.

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

Of course he must go.  He must martyr himself as a politician and take the “opportunity to write his own political epilogue.”  He should take all the accomplishments of his political career, put them on a tombstone, and retire into anonymity.

h/t tombstonebuilder.com

Uh. No.

Just like we’ve been expected to take Barack Obama at his word that he is a Christian (despite all the evidence to the contrary), we better damn well be ready to take Peter Kinder at his word.  Kinder is not accused of nor has had to admit anything illegal like smoking pot or using cocaine — unlike our President.

And, Kinder is not the subject of a Missouri Auditor law suit.  The Missouri (yes Republican) Auditor has filed suit against Governor Nixon for illegally reducing expenditures where he glaringly REDUCED BUDGETS FOR REPUBLICANS BUT NOT DEMOCRATS!

Kinder was twice audited by Democrat Missouri Auditors with no findings of fault, and when later accused of travel improprieties, he made immediate restitution at the mere air of such a concern.

Nixon, as soon as he was inaugurated, put the keibosh on the Matt Blunt E-Mail Scandal after using it as campaign fodder to get elected.  Blunt and co-accused Ed Martin were more than ready to have the details aired out, but Nixon closed the investigation.

Although he said, “I think I have a record over 25 years that’s supported workers, that’s supported individual rights, that clearly believes strongly in the rights … of minorities,” Jay Nixon has been mute as Peter Kinder fought to stop the undermining of Missourian’s individual rights under Obamacare and hasn’t said word one about the travesty that is the TSA attack on our 4th amendment rights.

Jay Nixon has now called a special legislative session (costing taxpayers thousands) to push the Aerotropolis boondoggle that will reward donors with taxpayer money in a outrageous example of crony capitalism.

Nixon ignored the opportunity to capitalize on the exodus of businesses from Illinois after their massive Income Tax increases while Governors from Indiana and Wisconsin courted businesses and individuals to consider their states for planting new roots.

Nixon rejected legislation that would have required many voters to display government-issued photo identification when they cast ballots.

And, Nixon ‘led from behind’ by allowing the abortion restrictions to go into effect without his signature.  Certainly more restrictions on abortions are necessary, but such an issue should be led by the Governor — not an “it’s in my pocket” approval.

Certainly Kinder, with the record below (highlighted by the Missouri Record), would never be able to mount a successful challenge in light of the above…

Kinder, in the partial birth abortion bill of 1997, he worked to override the governor’s veto.
Kinder was also instrumental in passing Missouri’s concealed-carry law.
Kinder’s lawsuit in opposition to the President’s health care reform has been joined by officials in dozens of states.
And most importantly, Kinder has worked successfully to bridge the urban/rural divide in Missouri politics

Pack it in Peter Kinder; you must “Go”

The Missouri Record may be right; I may be wrong. But, to call for Kinder to take a dive is, likely, putting the knock-out before the punch.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Abortion, Election, Health Care

 

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Jason Crowell: A Special Session Has Been Called

By Missouri State Senator Jason Crowell (jcrowell@senate.mo.gov)

(Read Part 1 Here)

(Read Part 2 Here)

(Read Part 3 Here)

A special session has been called for the special interests starting Tuesday, September 6th, 2011.  The General Assembly usually meets January through May, but for extraordinary reasons, the Governor or General Assembly can call itself into session to pass what it deems as legislation that cannot wait until January.  In this case, September’s special session is nothing more than an effort to get right with fat cat campaign contributors at your expense, the Missouri taxpayer.  We cannot rebuild levees in Southeast Missouri or make farmers whole who lost everything in this year’s flood, but the politicians in Jefferson City want you to send $360 million in Aerotropolis tax credits to St. Louis.  There is literally something in the Governor’s special session call for every special interest, but nothing for the Missourians who have lost everything due to recent disasters across our state.

Senate and House Leadership spent the month of July in a backroom in St. Louis cutting a deal that is short on economic development, short on tax credit reform, but long on government handouts to special interests, creating a larger budget deficit that prevents us from funding priorities like education.  And Governor Nixon has yielded to this deal, endorsed it, and is doing his part to see to it that this September will be the “Special Interests First, Taxpayers Last” month by authorizing a special session to:

  • Give $360 million to developers for Aerotropolis with no taxpayer protections to get their money back if Aerotropolis does not create the jobs promised;
  • Exempt the construction of Data Centers from paying state and local sales taxes on utilities, machinery, and equipment;
  • Provide $10 million dollars a year to attract a billion dollar sports industry to host events in Missouri;
  • Reward those who avoided paying their taxes by giving amnesty to their wrongdoing; and
  • Take money from the poor and disabled via the Circuit Breaker Property Tax Relief at $55.8 million a year or $847.5 million over 15 years to pay for these new giveaways.

This deal that Senate and House Leadership cut behind closed doors, in a non-transparent inside job, and is now being pushed to be passed in special session, must not be allowed to pass.  Let me be clear, there is a path to do right by the Missouri taxpayer and I will fight to amend Leaderships’ bill to this end.  But if we are to succeed, it will take you demanding that the Jefferson City politicians put you first instead of their campaign donors.  It is my hope that together we are successful.

In this series we have been discussing the possibility of this special session, what is wrong with Leaderships’ back-room deal, what special interest provisions must be eliminated, and how we move forward with an economic development bill that puts Missouri first, not connected special interests and lobbyists.  There are several issues at play; the past few weeks we have discussed Aerotropolis tax credits, Historic Preservation tax credits and Low Income Housing tax credits.  As the special session approaches, we will continue to discuss all of these issues and the changes that must be made to Leaderships’ back-room deal.  You will probably learn more then you want to know, but it is vital that you know what is going on with your hard-earned tax dollars in Jefferson City.

To understand Leaderships’ bill, we must look at the smoke and mirror savings House and Senate Leadership are claiming in their bill.  To be able to give to their campaign contributing developers, they take the money from the Senior Citizen Property Tax Credit.  Known as Circuit Breaker Property tax relief, this tax credit gives certain senior citizens and disabled individuals who rent a $750-a-year credit when they file their taxes.  In 2011, Missouri gave out $55.8 million dollars in this tax credit to individuals who rented their homes.  Over the next 15 years, budget experts expect Missouri to spend $847.5 million for the Circuit Breaker tax credit for renters.  Leaderships’ bill ends this tax credit.

In my opinion, it does not make sense to give $55.8 million a year in property tax relief to people who do not pay property tax.  But it is even more ridiculous to give this money to developers in new tax credits while Missouri has failed to fully fund the foundation formula in 2012 by $177 million for K -12 education.  This is why Leaderships’ bill that gives the “savings” from ending the Circuit Breaker tax credit for renters to campaign contributors through Aerotropolis tax credits, Low Income Housing tax credits, and Historic Preservation tax credits is absurd and must not be allowed.

I believe now is the time to make fundamental positive reforms to Missouri’s tax credits system to protect taxpayers’ money.  We should subject awarding tax credits to a transparent process, where your representatives will have the chance to look at all the things we spend your tax dollars on and prioritize accordingly.  In Missouri, the method by which we set Missouri’s priorities is through the appropriation process.  Here we ask each of the state’s expenses to stand in line before your representatives in the General Assembly; requiring them to demonstrate why, with limited resources, they should be funded over others.  By making tax credits subject to the appropriations process, all state expenditures would now stand in line and prevent them from playing favorites by allowing those who receive tax credits to cut to the front of the appropriations line.

Now is the time for government to live within its means, not spend money it does not have by authorizing giveaway tax credits not tied to performance.  Together we have an opportunity to do right by the Missouri taxpayer but it will take you, the bosses of the politicians, to demand the right legislation is passed in this special session.  This can be done by taking back our state government and holding Senate and House Leadership accountable; shining a bright light on the problems with their back-room deal and watching them scatter like cockroaches from their current position.  Again, I need your help holding these politicians accountable.  They are counting on your silence.  I will continue in the coming weeks to examine further the issues and changes needed for a “Taxpayer First Special Session.”

To your humble blogger, it seems that fodder more apropos of a Special Legislative Session would be the termination of Missouri’s Income Tax in favor of a Consumption Tax.  Corporations don’t pay taxes anyway, so let’s move on from the hidden Corporate Tax to an equitable Consumption Tax that can help grow Missouri’s economic base.

h/t senate.mo.gov

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns.  Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459.  You may write to me at Jason Crowell; Missouri Senate; State Capitol; Jefferson City, MO  65101, or e-mail me at: jcrowell@senate.mo.gov or visit me on the web at http://www.senate.mo.gov/crowell.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Government Waste, Taxes

 

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Jason Crowell: Special Session??? – Part 3

By Missouri State Senator Jason Crowell (jcrowell@senate.mo.gov)

(Read Part 1 Here)

(Read Part 2 Here)

Low Income Housing Tax Credits

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion from Jefferson City politicians suggesting the General Assembly will be called back into a special legislative session focused on “economic development.”  In fact, Senate and House leadership have spent much of July in a backroom in St. Louis cutting a deal that is short on economic development and short on tax credit reform, but long on government handouts to campaign donors and special interests in the name of “economic development” and “job growth.”  The General Assembly usually meets January through May, but for extraordinary reasons, the Governor or General Assembly can call itself into session to pass what it deems as legislation that cannot wait until January.

Senate and House leadership have recently announced a deal they cut behind closed doors in a non-transparent inside job, which is now being pushed to be passed in a special session.  This back-room deal must not be allowed to pass.  But let me be clear, there is a path to do right by the Missouri taxpayer, but it will take you demanding that Jefferson City politicians put you first instead of their fat cat campaign donors.  It is my hope that together we are successful.

In this series we are discussing where we are as to a possible special session, what is wrong with Leaderships’ back-room deal, what special interest provisions must be eliminated and how we move forward with an economic development bill that puts Missouri first, not connected special interests and lobbyists.  There are several issues at play; two weeks ago we discussed Aerotropolis tax credits for St. Louis Lambert Airport and last week we discussed Historic Preservation tax credits.  This still leaves Low Income Housing tax credits, Brownfield tax credits, Land Assemblage tax credits, and Circuit Breaker Property Tax Relief tax credits for owners and renters of real property.  We will discuss all of these issues and the changes that must be made to Leaderships’ backroom deal.  You will probably learn more then you want to know, but it is vital that you know what is going on with your hard-earned tax dollars in Jefferson City.

The next issue to look at is Low Income Housing tax credits.  In my opinion, for the most part, state tax credits in Missouri have become programs that favor special interests and wealthy developers who are generous to politicians’ campaigns.  And these special interests are well represented in the halls of the Capitol by lobbyists who continue to convince legislators that tax credits create jobs or enhance economic development when all they really do is line the pockets of their beneficiaries.  And as the influence of these special interests have grown, so too has the expansion of many tax credit programs.  In total, Missouri tax credits have increased over the last 13 years by 430.9 percent, equaling $545 million in 2011.  For Fiscal Year 2012, budget experts estimate the number of tax credits will grow to $639 million.

Low Income Housing tax credits were the largest giveaway in FY 2011 of Missouri’s sky rocking tax credits.  It is so large, Missouri ranks number 2 in the nation for giveaways in the name of building low income.  This is how the Low Income Housing tax credit scheme works; once approved by the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC), Missouri provides a tax credit which can be used each year for 10 years by its allocated developers, to construct or acquire and rehabilitate rental housing.  In 2011, Missouri issued $156 million worth of tax credits to developers for affordable housing.  But Low Income Housing tax credits are streamed to the developer over 10 years, so taxpayers have actually been left to-date with an outstanding unfunded Low Incoming Housing tax credit liability (authorized or issued yet not redeemed) of $1.369 billion.  For example, stretched over 10 years, a developer who received $1 million in Low Incoming Housing tax credits this year is actually receiving $10 million at $1 million per year over the course of 10 years.  So in this case after already receiving $1 million from the taxpayers this year, the taxpayers are still on the hook for the remaining $9 million due to the developer over the next 9 years.

Above, I believe he meant “in the name of building low income housing”

To finance these housing units, the developer takes the tax credits and sells them for cash.  These tax credits DO NOT reduce a developer’s tax liability; they are “cash” vouchers, which the developer sells to others at a great discount.  This is why in a 2008 audit, the Missouri Auditor called Low Income Housing tax credits “costly” and “inefficient” because only 35 cents for every dollar go to development costs while the remaining 65 cents go to investors.  Leaderships’ bill does nothing address this fact.  Instead, Leaderships’ bill creates even more exceptions so that investors benefit first before a return on investment is realized for taxpayers.

In the same report, the Auditor also criticized the selection process of not documenting how projects are selected; highlighting that political influence impacts the selection of projects.  The Leaderships’ bill instead of reforming this process will give more influence to special interest developers and campaign contributors by allowing both the President Pro Tem and Speaker of the House the ability to appoint, without a confirmation process, members to the board that decides who receives Low Income Housing tax credits.  In addition, the law if passed will allow politicians to put those with conflicts of interest on this board because there are no conflict of interest provisions to prevent campaign contributors from buying their way onto this board.

Leaderships’ bill also boasts the establishment of new caps.  But the truth is there is no savings because of caps.  Tax credit expenses will actually be higher in the future than they were in 2011 because with the new board, they spend more than in 2011.  With a new board that will have no accountability measure for their spending, the result will be greater wasteful spending of your hard earned tax dollars.  The crony capitalism of this new board will cost taxpayers even more than they are paying now for this wasteful program and that is by design.

Let me provide you with recent abuses of this program that the Leaderships’ bill does nothing to reform and in fact, increase the outrageous amount of tax credits issued:

  • Schultz School Senior Housing project in Cape Girardeau used state Low Income Housing tax credits to rehabilitate 45 housing units.  The developer received $372,997 per unit.
  • Bethel Ridge Estates in Columbia received $320,476 per unit to rehabilitate 42 units and then was awarded another $339,588 per unit to rehabilitate another 42 units for Bethel Ridge Estates II.
  • Sycamore Village Apartments in Perryville received $207,500 per unit to rehabilitate 36 units.
  • Cape Riverview Apartments 2 in Cape Girardeau received $196,047 per unit to rehabilitate 43 units
  • Breezeway Estates in Perryville received $253,333 per unit to rehabilitate 15 units
  • West Court Manor in Cape Girardeau received $205,917 per unit to rehabilitate 48 units
  • Eagles Landing in East Prairie received $116,000 per unit to rehabilitate 30 units.

I believe now is the time to make fundamental positive reforms to Low Income Housing tax credits.  We should subject awarding tax credits to a transparent process, where your representatives will have the chance to look at all the things we spend your tax dollars on and prioritize accordingly.  In Missouri, the method by which we set Missouri’s priorities through the appropriation process where we ask each of the state’s expenses to stand in line before your representatives in the General Assembly; requiring them to demonstrate why, with limited resources, they should be funded over others.  By making tax credits subject to the appropriations process, all state expenditures would now stand in line and prevent favorites, by allowing those who receive tax credits to cut to the front of the appropriations line.

Again I ask, is there a State Senator out there willing to let ‘Leadership’ know that she or he will filibuster this Aerotropolis boondoggle along with any bill that takes more money from the Missouri taxpayer and gives it to wealthy campaign donors.  If this monstrosity is the main item on the docket, it is incumbent on representatives that considers themselves fiscally responsible to stand firmly in the path of its passage.

And, will Governor Jay Nixon let the Legislature know that he will veto such legislation, or will he further line the pockets of his donors.

As you know, I have concerns with awarding any new tax credits while cutting education budgets in Missouri.  As conceived by Senate and House leadership, Low Income Housing tax credits are a special interest giveaway to fat cat campaign donors.  But, if Low Income Housing tax credits are going to be about true economic development, we must make the changes we’ve discussed.  And if Senate and House leadership fight us and fight the elimination of these special interest provisions, then they must be defeated as well.

Now is the time for government to live within its means, not spend money it does not have by authorizing giveaway tax credits not tied to performance.  Together we have an opportunity to do right by the Missouri taxpayer but it will take you, the bosses of the politicians, to demand the right legislation is passed, if there is a special session.  This can be done by taking back our state government and holding Senate and House leadership accountable; shining a bright light on the problems with their back-room deal and watching them scatter like cockroaches from their current position.  Again, I need your help holding these politicians accountable.  They are counting on your silence.  In the coming weeks we will examine further the issues and changes needed for a taxpayer first special session.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns.  Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459.  You may write to me at Jason Crowell; Missouri Senate; State Capitol; Jefferson City, MO  65101, or e-mail me at: jcrowell@senate.mo.gov or visit me on the web at http://www.senate.mo.gov/crowell.

h/t senate.mo.gov

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Education, Taxes

 

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Senator Crowell: Special Session??? – Part 2

By Missouri State Senator Jason Crowell (jcrowell@senate.mo.gov)

(Read Part 1 Here)

Historic Preservation Tax Credits

 Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion from Jefferson City politicians suggesting the General Assembly will be called back into a special legislative session focused on “economic development.” In fact, Senate and House leadership have spent much of July in a backroom in St. Louis cutting a deal that is short on economic development and short on tax credit reform, but long on government handouts to campaign donors and special interests in the name of “economic development” and “job growth.” The General Assembly usually meets January through May, but for extraordinary reasons, the Governor or General Assembly can call itself into session to pass what it deems as legislation that cannot wait until January.

Senate and House leadership have recently announced a deal they cut behind closed doors in a non-transparent inside job, which is now being pushed to be passed in a special session. This back-room deal must not be allowed to pass. But let me be clear, there is a path to do right by the Missouri taxpayer, but it will take you demanding that Jefferson City politicians put you first instead of their fat cat campaign donors. It is my hope that together we are successful.

In this series we are discussing where we are as to a possible special session, what is wrong with Leaderships’ back-room deal, what special interest provisions must be eliminated and how we move forward with an economic development bill that puts Missouri first, not connected special interests and lobbyists. There are several issues at play; last week we discussed Aerotropolis tax credits for St. Louis Lambert Airport. There still remains Historic Preservation tax credits, Low Income Housing tax credits, Brownfield tax credits, Land Assemblage tax credits, and Circuit Breaker Property Tax Relief tax credits for owners and renters of real property. We will discuss all of these issues and the changes that must be made to leaderships’ backroom deal. You will probably learn more then you want to know, but it is vital that you know what is going on with your hard-earned tax dollars in Jefferson City.

The second issue is Historic Preservation tax credits. In my opinion, state tax credits in Missouri have become programs that favor special interests and wealthy developers who are generous to politicians’ campaigns. And these special interests are well represented in the halls of the Capitol by lobbyists who continue to convince legislators that tax credits create jobs or enhance economic development when all they really do is line the pockets of their beneficiaries. And as the influence of these special interests have grown, so too has the expansion of many tax credit programs. In total, Missouri tax credits have increased over the last 13 years by 430.9 percent, equaling $545 million in 2011. For Fiscal Year 2012, budget experts estimate the number of tax credits will grow to $639 million.

Historic Preservation tax credits make up one of the largest pieces of Missouri’s sky-rocking tax credits. Missouri ranks number 1 in the nation for giveaways in the name of historic preservation having issued $107 million in 2011. Over the last 10 years, Missouri has given out more than $1 billion in Historic Preservation tax credits. [Emphasis Added]

Missouri provides developers with a tax credit for approved development costs associated with qualified rehabilitation so long as it falls under certain lose parameters to be considered historic. To finance these projects, the developer takes the tax credits and sells them for cash.

Tax credits, however, go through a different process than most expenditures of state money; they do not go through the normal legislative process of appropriations. Instead, the General Assembly sets the rules in law of how Historic Preservation tax credits are issued. As part of the special session, House and Senate leadership made a deal to rewrite those rules and are cynically calling it tax credit reform.

Leaderships’ bill expands what development costs can be covered by Historic Preservation tax credits. That is, developers could receive more of your money resulting in fewer projects. Horribly so, under the label of reform, their bill would strip government oversight and accountability of your hard-earned tax dollars. Leaderships’ bill prevents the Department of Economic Development (DED) from independently reviewing eligibility costs and expenses of projects receiving tax credits; instead, they will just have to accept whatever is submitted by the developer’s own accountant. A limited audit can only be done after all tax credits have been issued and the developer has already taken your tax dollars.

Silly me. I thought we had elected Republicans in Missouri to lead forward in the fight for Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability to the People.  Sounds like the establishment Republicans leading the MO House and Senate are still more interested in lining their pockets and staying in power.

I believe now is the time to make fundamental positive reforms to Historic Preservation tax credits. We should subject awarding tax credits to a transparent process, where your representatives will have the chance to look at all the things we spend your tax dollars on and prioritize accordingly. In Missouri, the method by which we set Missouri’s priorities in the appropriation process. Through this process, we ask each of the state’s expenses to stand in line before your representatives in the General Assembly; requiring them to demonstrate why, with limited resources, they should be funded over others. By making tax credits subject to the appropriations process, all state expenditures would now stand in line and prevent favorites, by allowing those who receive tax credits to cut to the front of the appropriations line.

True reforms to Historic Preservation tax credits must also include strong policing and clawbacks when a developer fails to provide an economic return to the state. Leaderships’ bill prevents DED from auditing developer expenses before issuing tax credits and prevents clawbacks on the individual developers receiving them. We must have an efficient way to get your money back. Reform must include personal guaranties so the developer is on the hook to repay the state when tax credits are misused, not just his or her shell corporation as Leaderships’ bill provides.

As you know, I have concerns with awarding any new tax credits while cutting education budgets in Missouri. As conceived by Senate and House leadership, Historic Preservation tax credits are a special interest giveaway to fat cat campaign donors. But, if Historic Preservation is going to be about true economic development, we must make the changes we’ve discussed. And if Senate and House leadership fight us and fight the elimination of these special interest provisions, then they must be defeated as well.

Now is the time for government to live within its means, not spend money it does not have by authorizing giveaway tax credits not tied to performance. Together we have an opportunity to do right by the Missouri taxpayer but it will take you, the bosses of the politicians, to demand the right legislation is passed, if there is a special session. This can be done by taking back our state government and holding Senate and House leadership accountable; shining a bright light on the problems with their back-room deal and watching them scatter like cockroaches from their current position. Again, I need your help holding these politicians accountable. They are counting on your silence. In the coming weeks we will examine further the issues and changes needed for a taxpayer first special session.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns.  Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459.  You may write to me at Jason Crowell; Missouri Senate; State Capitol; Jefferson City, MO  65101, or e-mail me at: jcrowell@senate.mo.gov or visit me on the web at http://www.senate.mo.gov/crowell.

h/t senate.mo.gov

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 13, 2011 in Government Waste, Taxes

 

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