State Senator Will Kraus has tried to defend the undefendable, the Missouri tax revision bill that was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon. Many of his claims are easily refuted. For one thing, he claims that Missouri has lost jobs to other states. According to an article in the Kansas City Star that investigated this issue, jobs moved from Missouri to Kansas but also moved from Kansas to Missouri. According to the STAR, the Missouri losses were almost totally offset by Kansas to Missouri gains. The Missouri legislature seems determined to follow Kansas on a fiscally irresponsible path.
According to Kraus, the tax cuts would only trigger if state revenues grow and went on to point out that revenues have increased in 26 of the last 30 years. La de la. Missouri has never restored the state education funding formula for K-12 schools that was first reduced during the recession of 2001 when Tony Stansberry was Superintendent of school schools. There have been numerous cuts to education funding at all levels in this state; until all of them are restored, any budget surpluses that the state reports are ignoring the hard fact that the school districts have had to ask for property tax increases to cover those shortfalls. The last time that R-7 put a tax increase on the ballot, was the first time that I know about that voters turned one down. Cutting income taxes at the state levels shifts the tax burden back to home and business owners who pay the property taxes. Without adequate funding, school districts will have to rely on property tax increases or will need to cut back on programs and employment to make up for those shortfalls. As long as schools are not fully funded, there is no real budget surplus. If the Governor withholds funding from schools, it is because revenues are insufficient to meet all of the stateís obligations.
The bill was badly written in many sections. Kraus admits that putting sales taxes on prescription drugs and student books was unintentional. He claimed that that part of the law was only for non-prescription, over the counter drugs. Arenít all over the counter medicines already being taxed? Why does he support this flawed bill? Counting on a federal law to force companies to collect Internet sales taxes for the states is like standing on a sand dune. Even if that flawed concept does pass the U.S. Congress, it doesnít mean that Missouri citizens will benefit enough from the small income tax cut for individuals to offset the increase in sales taxes paid on Internet purchases. In many cases, those things that are purchased from Internet vendors are not available in Missouri stores. If you do buy things from companies that have stores in the state, you will pay the sales taxes just as if you bought them in the stores. If you shop the websites like Wal Mart, Sears or other companies that have stores in this state, you already pay state sales taxes on those purchases.
We need income tax reform in Missouri but not this type of change. The state tax table has been the same for decades. Everyone has a graduated tax up to $9000, but then, everybody pays a flat tax of 6%. Nine thousand dollars does not buy what it used to, but the tax tables have not been changed since the 1960s. The graduated tax ceiling should be increased to at least $18,000 and above that amount; there should be higher tax brackets for high income individuals. The flat tax system that we have now is antiquated and needs to be changed. The tax tables should be adjusted each year to recognize that the buying power of the dollar declines as consumer prices rise.
Gene W. DeVaux