Cutting taxes while protecting education

Lee's Summit JournalApril 30, 2014 

Last week, the Missouri House truly agreed and finally passed Senate Bills 509 & 496, the legislation I sponsored to cut taxes for all Missourians who file a personal tax form. The bills are now on the governor’s desk, awaiting his action.

Like last summer, opponents of the bill are starting a disinformation campaign about the effects of the bill. It is truly disappointing that people have no problem with leaving out important parts of the bill, passing on assumptions as fact, and even outright lying. Left out is the fact that SB 509 was written specifically to protect schools, with delays and triggers to make sure Missouri has higher revenue to fund public education.

Let’s look at the facts. Facts you probably have not heard from the governor or third party liberal groups.

SB 509’s tax cuts won’t start until 2017. That gives the governor and Legislature two years to continue working toward full funding of the foundation formula. Close to one half of the balance could be dealt with this year alone. With just average state revenue growth, two years is enough to reach full funding, which I support.

SB 509’s cuts won’t take effect at all if the state does not receive increased revenue. It will be impossible for the state to collect less revenue because of the tax cuts in SB 509. They cannot take effect unless the state’s net general revenue grows by at least $150 million over the highest of the last three years. The tax cuts come from growth in revenue, not from the core budget.

SB 509 will create surplus revenue. Over a period of five years, SB 509 will send $620 million back into the hands of taxpayers. Over the same five-year time frame, revenue will have to grow by at least $750 million. Basic math tells you that means that state revenue must grow by at least $130 million. That fact doesn’t even consider the hundreds of millions Missouri’s revenue will grow during the two-year delay. Since the average yearly growth is closer to $300 million, it is likely that revenues will be considerably higher.

SB 509’s business tax cuts are for small business owners. Those who pass through their business taxes to their personal tax form have never gotten a tax cut before. These are plumbers, electricians, dry cleaners, farmers, barbers, carpenters and other small businesses. I would note that the owners of these small, struggling businesses are the parents of the children who attend our schools.

SB 509 does not cut funds to education. Budget decisions are made by the General Assembly each year; they are not somehow automatic. Don’t be fooled by school districts who are claiming some very specific cut to their budget. These districts are making assumptions about phantom automatic cuts based only on the cost, and ignoring the triggers and normal revenue growth. No such cuts are planned and no such cuts will be needed.

While I understand that there are differing philosophies on tax cuts, it is critical that we have an honest discussion on the issue. I encourage you to listen to both sides and make up your own mind. But please don’t rely entirely on the misinformation and misleading information put out by opponents of the bill. It is important to know that SB 509 was drafted specifically to protect our public school system.


State Senator Will Kraus-R serves District Eight and is a resident of Lee’s Summit.

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