During the 2013 legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly passed House Bill 253, legislation that implements a new tax scheme which threatens Missourians’ quality of life and access to critical public services. If HB 253 becomes law, its consequences will be far-reaching; it will lead to overcrowded elementary and secondary classrooms, increased costs for college students, diminished public health and safety and deteriorating infrastructure including roads and bridges.
When fully implemented, the bill will cost Missouri at least $800 million annually, an amount equal to one quarter of the state’s funding for K-12 education or the entire amount of state funding for colleges and universities across the state. The cost of the legislation is greater than state funding for prisons and the highway and water patrols combined.
This comes at a time when crucial state services are already underfunded. The K-12 education formula is currently $600 million underfunded and higher education funding is more than $100 million below 2001 funding levels. The revenue reductions from HB 253 will only dig these holes even deeper.
The proposed tax scheme preys on senior citizens who rely on state funding for nursing homes, in-home care, and meals on wheels. It will force higher property taxes on the elderly, making it more difficult for them to stay in their homes. And the legislation imposes a new tax on prescription drugs, endangering the health of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.
Businesses looking to invest in Missouri expect a sound transportation network, a qualified workforce, and a climate where entrepreneurs can thrive. Yet, HB 253 will rob the state of these assets, causing disinvestment in education and workforce training, public infrastructure, and the overall quality of life of Missourians. This will be a detraction for businesses, and they will look elsewhere to grow and invest.
And, after Missouri’s credit rating plummets, its borrowing costs rise, and its quality of life sours, Missourians will be stuck with the new tax scheme and its devastating consequences. The Hancock Amendment handcuffs the legislature’s ability to reverse course because it requires a public vote on most tax measures.
Calling it “an ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible experiment,” Governor Nixon recently vetoed HB 253. The Coalition for Missouri’s Future agrees with the Governor’s assessment and applauds his veto.
Proponents of HB 253, looking to give a tax cut to the wealthy at the expense of the rest of Missouri citizens, have expressed their intention to override the Governor’s veto in September. Don’t let them destroy Missouri.