Update on the Interim Committee on Tax Credit Efficiency and Reform From Senator Cindy O’Laughlin

by Senator Cindy O'Laughlin

As the chairwoman of the Interim Committee on Tax Credit Efficiency and Reform, I have the opportunity to initiate discussions about how to improve Missouri’s existing tax credit programs. I don’t believe it is government’s role to choose winners and losers; yet realistically I know credits will continue in some form. I would like to see tax credits (which reduce general revenue to the state) be scaled back dramatically.
As an example, just one of the credits authorized last session to one business amounted to enough general revenue to replace the Rocheport Bridge (cost of $250 million). How do we continue ignoring the poor state of our roads because we lack funding and then turn around and authorize corporate welfare?
The Interim Committee on Tax Credit Efficiency and Reform met this week to discuss the purpose and goals of the existing tax credit programs that cater to businesses throughout the state. Most of the programs have either poorly defined goals or none at all.
Over the course of the next few months, the committee will examine the tax credit programs offered in our state and really dive into how businesses are using the tax credits, the benefit these credits are providing their communities and what it’s costing the state to provide them. We will also look at ways to measure the effectiveness of each program and examine the goals of the current programs to see if any of them have could be consolidated.
Government has a problem with accountability and the tax credits are a good example of this. Is there in place a structure by which accountability is documented? I don’t believe there is and this must change. I believe it is important to hold businesses accountable for their commitments to our state, especially when tax payer dollars are being used.
Throughout this process, I want to assure equal access to rural businesses in our state’s tax credit programs. In addition, I believe our state must take a holistic approach when it comes to tax credits. We must ensure that the tax credits are not only benefitting Missouri businesses, but also the communities in which they reside.
Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-7985. You may also email me at cindy.olaughlin@senate.mo.gov.