After the Jefferson City GOP posse failed to override Governor Nixon’ veto of HB253, the monumentally bad GOP tax “reform,” I wrote about the fact that as long as the makeup of the legislature stays the same, there’s just too much momentum of the folding green variety behind the idea of a rich man’s tax cut to let it go gently into that good night:
Earlier, when confronted with the obvious fact that the override effort might fail, Speaker Tim Jones had been emphatic that he wasn’t going to let this failure derail his goal, declaring that in such a case “income tax cuts will be a big priority next year.” […] As for the bill’s chief sponsor, Rex Sinquefield, the $2.4 million dollars the billionaire spent promoting HB253 can easily be written off as a down payment; a first gambit in a game in which he plans to wear down the resistance with a combination of big spending and persistence. Nor, I suspect, will the Missouri Chamber of Commerce let Speaker Jones down when he revives his signature initiative …
I have to say that it gives me no pleasure to be proven right so soon. Today in the Kansas City Star we learn that a task force put together by State Republican Party Chair Ed Martin and former state Rep. Shane Schoeller has authored a white paper intended to act as a “starting point for further conversations” about how to get the goodies that HB253 promised the Republicans’ rich patrons. And, if you thought HB253 was a disaster in the making, the point from which Missouri Republicans intend to start their latest reform effort is bleak in the extreme:
Recommendation one was to eliminate the corporate income tax and pay for it by erasing many state tax credits.
Calling the corporate income tax “inefficient and burdensome,” the committee said wiping out the tax was “one of the most promising ways to energize Missouri’s underachieving economy.”
In suggesting that Missouri consider eliminating the income tax, the committee said the sales tax should be broadened by wiping out the more than 400 exemptions now included in the tax code.
The panel also said that while the income tax is in place, the General Assembly should reduce the number of tax brackets and include new deductions to encourage savings and simplify the law.
We’ve been here before. Several times, if memory serves me right. Didn’t a guy named Sinquefield try to get something like this – you know, no income tax and lots of sales tax – on the ballot a couple of years ago?
Missouri Republicans probably ought to think long and hard before they go galloping into this minefield. During last year’s forray into GOP-style tax reform, Kansas was held up as the model that Missouri should emulate precisely because it had jumped off the same ideological cliff tax-wise, and our intrepid Republicans were keen to follow in spite of the obvious problems afflicting that state in the wake of the decision to eliminate the income tax. There’s now new evidence that if our Republican legislators are really concerned about the plight of families that are “falling behind,” the Kansas route may not be the way to go.
In fact, it is fair to conclude that recent polling shows that similar families in Kansas aren’t too happy with what GOP Governor Sam Brownback’s tax reform has done for their state. Two polls released Thursday indicate that if the election were held today, Governor Brownback would most likely become ex-governor Brownback poste haste. SurveyUSA has his approval/disapproval numbers at 34/59, while the Fort Hays State University’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs’ 2013 Kansas Speaks survey has his approval/disapproval at 35/42. And this is in a redder than thou red state.
I suppose it’s too much to hope that the GOP geniuses in the state legislators would take to heart indications emanating from Kansas that those who promote this rich-man’s tax voodoo aren’t going to fare too well in the long run. If they aren’t convinced by the damage that Brownback and his GOP collaborators have done to Kansas’ credit rating, physical, educational and social infrastructure, perhaps self-interest might do the trick. Or not.