Senate leader says there's still time for tax credit reform

Thursday, April 12, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- As the legislative session winds down, the leader of the Missouri Senate is still hopeful that progress can finally be made on a comprehensive tax-credit reform bill this year.

On Tuesday, Republican Senate President Pro Tem Robert Mayer said there is still time to pass a bill that would end or significantly limit a number of state tax credit programs, even though similar legislation failed dramatically during a special session last year.

"It's a situation, a subject, a topic that we've talked about extensively for the last two years, so it's not like we're bringing up something that legislators are unaware of and don't have knowledge or information about," Mayer said.

Mayer also doubled down on his refusal to raise any state taxes to deal with the ongoing budget crisis until tax credit reform is passed. It's a refusal that came shortly after a protest in the Capitol rotunda by progressive groups urging lawmakers to take up a streamlined Internet sales tax and to increase the state's lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax.

But the tax-credit reform bill has a long history in the Missouri Legislature. It's based on the findings of a bipartisan tax credit review commission established by the governor two years ago. The commission was tasked with making recommendations for how to trim the state's tax credit programs – which include the largest historic preservation and low income housing tax credits of their kind in the nation.

A measure to reign in tax credits came near to completion during the end of the regular session in 2011, but failed in the final hours. It was so close that lawmakers took up the issue again in a two-month special session last fall, although disagreements over tax credit caps for developers between the House and Senate stymied the bill and the session came to a close without yielding any tax credit reform. 

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