Tax cut bill would reduce education dollars in Mo.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The key to a growing economy and creating more jobs is to keep taxes low and invest the resources we do have into quality education for every Missouri child.

As an elected representative and a fiscal conservative, I have worked hard in the General Assembly to accomplish these goals on behalf of Missouri families. Over the past few years, we have cut taxes, reduced the size of state government and made record investments in our public schools.

This past session, the General Assembly considered several bills to change our state's tax structure. House Bill 253, one such bill, was passed, but vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon in June.

In the governor's veto message, he detailed specific concerns that have caused many of its original supporters, including myself, to re-evaluate the bill.

Even before his veto, Gov. Nixon pointed to a drafting error in the bill that would have the unintended result of reinstating sales taxes on prescription medication, which had not been taxed since 1979. Even though this provision was a mistake, it would have the very real impact of raising taxes on seniors and others who depend on medication. I do not support raising taxes, especially on prescription medication.

In recent weeks, I also have heard the concerns of teachers, school districts and parents throughout Southeast Missouri over how House Bill 253 would take millions of dollars from our classrooms. I have taught in our public schools, and have been proud to support new investments in our schools. We must not reverse any of the gains our schools and students have made in recent years -- something this bill would do.

As the owner of a small business for 30 years, I know the importance of making sure Missouri stays competitive. We are a low-tax state, with a business-friendly environment. But I am concerned the cuts included in House Bill 253 may do more harm than good. I am also concerned if these tax cuts -- which we now know are not as beneficial as originally believed -- become law, it will make it harder to pass more targeted, better tax cuts in the future.

I greatly appreciate the feedback I have received on this issue from so many of my constituents. As your elected representative, I will continue to make sure we are doing everything we can to invest in our schools, grow our economy and lower taxes for all Missourians. House Bill 253 does not help us achieve these goals. That is why, after continuing to discuss this issue with the families, businesses and citizens I represent, I will vote to sustain the governor's veto of House Bill 253.

Steve Hodges, D-East Prairie, is the state representative for the 161st District.

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