Missouri Missouri Legislature Public Policy

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Dubious Policy Based on False Urgency"

by Michael R. Allen

Today the Post-Dispatch has an excellently-titled editorial on Governor Jay Nixon’s tax credit proposal: “Tax credit plan advances dubious policy based on false urgency”.

The editorial writer makes many good points, but a key observation is the timing of the proposal:

The tax credit debate hardly is new; the Legislature has been debating it for at least two years. Mr. Nixon has had ample time for an orderly, informed public debate on how best to proceed. But he chose to drop this complicated proposal out of the blue, with just six weeks remaining in an otherwise busy and contentious legislative session.

The timing of the proposal has led some observers to view it as a red herring designed to get the legislature to act. However, the resonance of Nixon’s views with those of Republican Senators like Jason Crowell and Matt Bartle cannot be underestimated. In past years — including last year — the governor stood on the side lines of the tax credit debates in the legislature, frustrating many urban Democrats who has enthusiastically supported his election.

This year, Nixon has aligned with those who view tax credits as “welfare” and who view welfare — and most government spending — as stealing. Some tax credits are dubious, but a true overhaul would evaluate the net economic benefit of each program before making cuts. The Rutgers study of state historic rehabilitation tax credits is a model of careful analysis that should guide decision-makers. This writer doubts that every program would show a net benefit if analyzed carefully. In the absence of such study, we are left with the prospect of continued contest of interests. Nixon’s proposal would amp up that contest, and create a wholly political tax credit system. Nixon is playing politics, not making policy. And Missouri’s legislators should reject his proposal.

Governor Nixon can be reached at:

Office of Governor Jay Nixon
P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102
(573) 751-3222

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