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Tax Increase Plans Introduced in Special Session

(KWMU File Photo)


Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri General Assembly opened a special session on Monday, and three proposals were offered to increase revenue to the state's treasury.

Democrat Wayne Goode of St. Louis County introduced legislation that would ask state voters to approve a tax hike to raise up to about $700 million, mostly from higher taxes on cigarettes and gambling.

He would hike the tax on a pack of cigarettes to $0.72, from the current $0.17.

Republican Doyle Childers of Reeds Spring is proposing increases in the sales and income taxes.

The prospects don't look good for either bill. Cape Girardeau Republican Peter Kinder, the Senate president pro tem, says he wouldn't bet much on either of them even making it to the floor for debate.

The start of the session also began Monday with House Democrats accusing Republicans of procedural deception.

Democratic leaders claimed Republicans had encouraged their own members to return to the Capitol Monday while telling Democrats they could stay home until Thursday.

The first few days of work in Jefferson City would be largely technical. So, House Majority Floor Leader Jason Crowell, of Cape Girardeau, advised all House members on May 28th that they didn't need to show up until Thursday.

But a day later in a letter only to Republicans, Crowell encouraged his GOP colleagues to show up Monday. Crowell says he encouraged fellow Republicans to come to the Capitol because Republicans want their members to know what's going on.

All but one Senator was there Monday. A total of 82 Missouri House members recorded their presence Monday with the chief clerk during the opening of a special
legislative session.

Present were 22 Democrats and 60 Republicans. Not present were 51 Democrats and 30 Republicans.

Details of tax proposals offered Monday by Missouri lawmakers on the first day of a special legislative session on the state budget:

- Raises an estimated $680 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

- Asks voters to increase cigarette tax from $0.17 to $0.72; increases taxes paid on casino revenues from 20% to 25%; charges casinos a $6 per person daily fee instead of $2 per person for every two-hour gambling session; increases by 5% taxes paid by Missourians making more than $200,000 annually.

- Ends Missouri's automatic link to the federal tax code as a way to prevent federal tax changes from affecting the state. Also ends several tax breaks that Gov. Bob Holden has described as "tax loopholes," including tax breaks on yacht purchases and for companies that ship other companies' merchandise.

- Lifts the $500 gamblers' loss limit on each two-hour gambling session at casinos.

- Total financial impact was not available Monday.

- Increases the state sales tax by 0.5% percent in the first year, then decreases that to 0.25% the next year and
0.125% in the third. Tax increase would end after three years.

- Exempts people making $10,000 a year or less from paying state income taxes.

- Increases income taxes by 2.7% to fund public schools.

- Reduces the required minimum property tax levy for school districts by $2.10 per $100 of property assessed valuation.

- Increases fees charged to casinos to $3 from the current $2 per person for each two-hour gambling session with proceeds going to higher education.

REP. BOB JOHNSON, R-Lee's Summit:
- Raises $42 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
- Ends seven tax credits, including neighborhood preservation, rebuilding communities and transportation tax credits he says go primarily to help St. Louis.

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