Things are continuing to move slowly in the Senate. While we continue to debate issues, it’s rare that we actually pass a bill. Last session at this time of the year, the House and Senate had already passed three bills and delivered them to the governor’s desk. This year, we have not sent anything to the Governor. At the same time last year 17 percent of the bills filed in the Senate had been approved and sent to the House; this year, only 9 percent of Senate bills have been sent to the House. The pattern continues this week — after discussing several major issues, including abortion and tax credit reform, we have little to show for it.
We began the discussion on tax credits this week. The fact of the matter is that our state is facing a budget shortfall, and while we are forced to make cuts to state programs and services, we continue to award tax credits through 61 different tax credit programs. Every dollar that is used for a tax credit is a dollar that cannot be used for our local schools, prisons, or mental health facilities.
Senate Bill 280 would make changes to several tax credit programs in the state to repeal, reform, and improve certain programs. Many of the changes in the bill were suggested by the governor’s Tax Credit Review Commission, which was formed last summer to review the state’s tax credit programs. This process of reviewing and examining these programs is necessary to keep our state on solid fiscal ground. While some of these programs are economically valuable, others have a low return on investment for our state.
We did send several measures I sponsored to the House this week. These include:
·Senate Bill 226, which would make several changes to the laws affecting ambulance districts, including provisions to allow ambulance board members to be recalled, similar to the process available for recalling members of school, hospital, and other local boards. The bill would also allow new ambulance districts the option of asking voters to approve a sales tax or property tax when the district is established. Currently newly-founded ambulance districts have to begin with a property tax and must then get additional voter approval to convert to a sales tax.
·Senate Bill 96, which would convey certain state property to St. Francois County and to Habitat for Humanity of St. Francois County, Inc.
·Senate Bill 97, which would convey certain state property located at the South East Missouri Mental Health Center to the city of Farmington.
·Senate Bill 282, which would move the state’s presidential primary to seven days after the presidential primary is conducted in the state of New Hampshire. The legislation is in response to requests by the national Democrat and Republican parties that several states move the date of their primary.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Engler: Tax credit discussion is a necessity
In his weekly report, Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, says it is time to take a much needed look at tax credits: