Republicans are nervous about Missouri’s financial outlook for 2010, so I asked Clint Zweifel (D-Florissant) what’s going to hit the fan that year. There are two pieces of Republican legislation, he tells me, that will bite us in 2010.
First, the state was already burdened with $400 million a year in tax credits. This year alone, the legislature added another $100 million in credits–without any cost benefit analysis.
And, by the way, there’s another $350 million in liability lurking out there if all tax credits were actually redeemed. They won’t all be redeemed, but how much will be is a variable that’s difficult to predict.
The second splurge that we’ll discover we can’t afford is the social security tax cuts. Those will cost the state another $155 mill a year. And the sad part is that only ten percent of seniors will benefit from that cut, most of them in the $75,000-100,000 annual income bracket.
That tax cut was never meant to benefit the poorest seniors because there are no taxes on social security income below the $35,000-40,000 income range. The average income for people 62 and older in this state is a paltry $25,000. Those people won’t see a dime of this money. And there’ll be less money available now for the social services those people need.
Republicans would have made the financial outlook for the state even bleaker if it hadn’t been for Senator Jeff Smith (D-St. Louis). Having counted the votes, he saw that the legislation was going to pass, so he got it amended to cap the tax cuts for incomes above $100,000.
What were the Republicans thinking when they passed that bill? Somebody needs to cut up their legislative credit card. Seriously.