After reading several criticisms from opponents attacking the Senior Tax Justice Act, HB 444 I think it is necessary to make some clarifications. It's hard for me to understand how anyone could oppose a plan to bring needed tax relief to over 250,000 Missouri seniors.
The opponents have left out a few very important facts. First, Missouri is one of only 15 states in America that currently taxes social security benefits. Second, it is simply wrong to force Missouri seniors to pay taxes on these benefits after paying a Social Security tax on all their earnings for their entire careers. It is double taxation no matter how you spin it.
Also, the critics scoff at the idea a tax cut could help keep retirees in Missouri and attract future residents to our state. However, we need seniors to stay in Missouri. They are our civic and club leaders, deacons in our churches and great babysitters for their grandkids.
Opponents seem to be concerned about the negative impact cutting taxes could have on Missouri's economy in the future. In the 1990s our budget grew from $9 billion to $18 billion while the legislature only cut $1 billion in taxes. Look at the math, a $1 billion tax cut vs. a $9 billion spending increase makes it easy to see why the checkbook didn't balance. Spending is what put us in the red, not tax cuts.
When the budget was bad, naysayer's urged us to raise taxes, because they thought it was the only way to fix our state budget. However, they were wrong. The legislature refused to raise taxes and now we are arguing about how big the surplus is.
By lowering taxes, the State helps jumpstart the economy which brings in more money to Missouri. This worked for President Kennedy in the early 1960s and President Reagan in the 1980s. This strategy is currently working for at least nine other states.
We know cutting taxes and controlling government spending works for other states and the federal government, but somehow opponents of tax cuts don't think it can work for Missouri. They were wrong in the 1990s about raising taxes and they are wrong today about cutting taxes.
Speaker Rod Jetton
Missouri House of Representatives