Keep tax credits that produce good results

A review of Missouri's 50 tax-credit programs, as ordered by Gov. Bob Holden, is a good idea -- as long as the results of the effort are to strengthen programs that benefit the state.

In the recent weeks of budget-cutting frenzy in Jefferson City, tax credits have become easy targets. Missouri grants about $390 million in credits each year. The credits amount to taxes not paid by companies and businesses. The credits are intended to encourage investment and expansion.

Indeed, the Department of Economic Development says credits in fiscal year 2000 stimulated $33 of private investment for every dollar of tax credit.

But some of the tax-credit programs are more successful than others. The review may identify costly credits that produce little or no economic return. Obviously, such programs need remedial action. But credits that work should be expanded as a proven mechanism for fostering economic growth.