It appears so far that the Missouri Senate may no longer be the place where tax credits go to die.
In years past, proposed incentives for such things as historic preservation or amateur sporting events would have faced a filibuster threat from a group of fiscally conservative Republicans in the Senate. But the leaders of that group are gone due to term limits, and perhaps that’s why this year’s amateur sports incentives bill was allowed to receive a Senate floor vote. State Senator Will Kraus (R, Lee’s Summit) says the atmosphere has changed.
“We’re trying to work with the (Missouri) House to get overall reform," Kraus said. "I understand that (Senate President Pro-tem Tom) Dempsey’s plan is to send this over there as a, ‘hey, this is a new Senate, we’re willing to work with you’…I get that.”
Kraus actually voted against tax breaks for amateur sporting events, but he also says it’s a small-sized bill that didn’t warrant a filibuster. Senator Eric Schmitt (R, Glendale) sponsored the bill.
“I think we proved this week that we can operate in a way to start to look at these things differently, and I think that’s a good thing," Schmitt said. "I think it sends a positive message, not just to the (House), but more importantly to the state and to these kinds of people, whether they’re businesses looking to locate here, businesses looking to stay here, or these events that we’re trying to attract.”
Schmitt’s amateur sporting events bill passed the Senate on a 28 to 4 vote. The Missouri Senate also unanimously passed legislation that would revive the Children in Crisis program and several other benevolent tax breaks. They expired last year when lawmakers failed to pass any form of tax credit legislation. The sponsor, Senator Bob Dixon (R, Springfield), says he’s glad his bill was allowed a vote this year instead of being held hostage.
“Quite frankly, the folks that are helped with these were unfortunately held as leverage in order to get the larger economic development tax credit reform through the Senate," Dixon said. "And what happened was everything failed.”
Dixon's bill also includes incentives for food pantries, crisis pregnancy centers, and widowed spouses of law enforcement officers. Both bills now go to the Missouri House, where their version of the benevolent tax credit bill is expected to be debated next week.
(Links to Senate bills 10 and 20 on the Mo. Senate's website were not accessible at press time.)
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport