Missouri Senate sends income tax cut to House; both houses pass farm tax credit bills
Missouri lawmakers are moving quickly to complete the special session agenda set by Gov. Mike Parson, the House and Senate passing incentives for farms and rural businesses, and the Senate completing work on a tax cut. tax.
Only one thing didn’t turn out the way Parson and the legislative leaders had hoped. While the Missouri House was able to muster just enough votes to pass the $40 million package of tax credits and low-interest loans to support agriculture, it fell short of the number. necessary for the bill to come into effect with Parson’s signature.
The Missouri Constitution requires an absolute House majority of 163 seats, or 82 votes, to pass a bill, and the Rural Incentives Bill got 83. urgency and 109 votes, two-thirds of the chamber.
Only 94 members voted for the emergency clause.
That’s a change from the regular session, when the House provided 111 votes to pass the bill and 120 votes for the emergency clause. Parson vetoed this bill because he disliked the two-year sunset for programs and asked lawmakers to re-enact it with a six-year sunset.
The vote came after a debate in which some Republicans and Democrats questioned the need to address rural programs in a special session.
State Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon, said the bill won’t save any struggling farmer or agricultural business.
“The reality is this is not an industry that’s going to fall hard if we don’t do something about it,” Lovasco said.
And State Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, said he was worried about what he didn’t know about Bill. He said members of the Republican side had whispered to him that the bill was “full of scam and corruption” and that he was unsure how the new appropriations would be used.
“I don’t know who benefits and who doesn’t, but when I see him go through the process like he did, I wonder if they’re right,” Meredith said.
Advocates of the bill noted that many programs are renewed with only minor changes.
The bill includes tax credits for fuel retailers to increase the sale of biofuels and loans to livestock producers to expand herds and growers of specialty crops like fruits, vegetables and flowers. It would also provide tax credits to support urban agriculture and meat processing and a sales tax exemption for commercial vehicles purchased for agricultural purposes.
“This bill has been an accumulation of everything farmers, ranchers and forest people have asked for,” said Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville.
While the House debated the Rural Incentives Bill, the Senate proceeded to final votes on the income tax cut, which passed 24-4, and its Rural Incentives Bill, which was passed 26-4.
The tax cut would set the top tax rate for 2023 at 4.95% and, over time, reduce it to 4.5%. When fully implemented, it will reduce annual state revenue by about $950 million, said Sen. Lincoln Hough, a Springfield Republican sponsoring the bill.
The state collected $12.9 billion in general revenue from income, sales and other taxes in the fiscal year that ended June 30, and the Treasury holds a surplus of general revenue of approximately $4.4 billion.
Senate Republican leaders said they expected the surplus to be consumed in coming years, but defended the tax cut as fiscally responsible. There will be money for priority programs such as education and child protection, they said.
“I don’t anticipate we’ll have this plethora of money that we currently have in the future,” Senate Speaker Pro Tem Dave Schatz said. “We are not putting a future legislature in danger of not being able to deal with these issues.”
The tax bill is easy to understand and lawmakers aren’t making sweeping tax policy changes, said Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.
“We’ve done some good things in this bill, but we haven’t upset the normal way things work,” Rowden said.
But Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, expressed concern about future budgets. Rizzo said he voted for the bill because it was less onerous than some other ideas discussed during the session, but indicated he was not as confident the state could avoid the funding gaps.
“We’re going to be vigilant going forward and push that $4 billion where it should go,” Rizzo said of the overage.
If Republicans seek additional tax cuts in the future, he said, Democrats will push for the relief to go to low- and middle-income taxpayers.
“Democrats are here to fight for working families, not to help corporate CEOs with their second mansion,” Rizzo said.
The special session will end in the next few days. The House will hold committee hearings on Senate bills next week.
The Senate will return after House action on Senate bills, Rowden said.
The Missouri Independent, www.missouriindependent.comis a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization covering state government and its impact on the people of Missouri.