Bill proposed to hold the line on personal property tax increases
BY OLIVIA SKLENKA AND CLAYTON VICKERS
MISSOURI NEWS NETWORK
JEFFERSON CITY — A bill that would hold the line on personal property tax increases prompted strong comments from backers and opponents at a Senate hearing Tuesday.
“All Senate Bill 8 is doing is saying ‘if and when real estate taxes, real estate tax revenues increase, we will ratchet down personal property assessment rate,” bill sponsor Sen. Bill Eigel, R-St. Charles, told the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Tax Policy.
Eigel, a committee member, vehemently defended the bill against critics. Before hearing witness testimony, Eigel said that many people will reason that the services the current personal property tax revenues go to are needed in a “reasonable just society.”
Fifteen witnesses spoke against the bill despite Eigel’s comments and his aggressive questioning directed toward witnesses.
Skip Stephens, fire chief at the Cottleville Fire Protection District in St. Charles, said he believes the bill will have negative effects on the district's ability to keep up with inflation if it passes.
“The cost of a fire truck six, eight, 12 years from now will be vastly different than it is today. (The bill) could also affect our ability to repay our loans, our debt service,” Stephens said.
Stephens also emphasized that the bill would further restrict limits already implemented through the Hancock Amendment.
“The Hancock Amendment within the Missouri Constitution already limits us to assessment growth of 5% or CPI (Consumer Price Index). So we’re already limited according to the Constitution,” Stephens said.
The committee also heard from people with similar concerns regarding the continuation of funding for public programs such as education.
Eigel asked the committee members to consider that “Senate Bill 8 is not a discussion about whether or not we should continue funding the services that are currently receiving revenue from personal property tax.”
Rather, Eigel said, the bill is a discussion about whether or not that particular form of taxation has created “such a burden on our most vulnerable households; our working and middle-class income households.”
This point aligned with the testimony of one witness, who is on a fixed income from a pension. The witness said he as several older vehicles, yet the price of the assessment on those vehicles has continued to increase.
The committee also heard testimony on a bill that would adjust maximums on tax credits awarded to seniors and disabled veterans. The bill, SB 15, would adjust these maximums by making them responsive to the Consumer Price Index in an effort to combat inflation. The bill would also raise the qualifying income level of the tax credit to $35,000 from $27,500.
Bill sponsor Sen. Mike Cierpiot, R-Jackson County, spoke about the bill’s benefits and was followed by numerous constituents who support it. Among them were professionals such as Jay Hardenbrook of AARP Missouri, Mallory Rusch of non-profit Empower Missouri, and Nicole Lynch of VOYCE, an advocacy group in the long-term care industry. Among the touted benefits were a reduction of stress upon state services and more elderly residents able to remain in their homes.
Testimony regarding the merits of the bill from those present was unanimously positive, with no opposition present.
The committee also heard testimony for SB 3, the so-called “Regulatory Sandbox Act,” a bill that would provide a two-year waiver of taxes and regulations upon businesses that can demonstrate innovative practices. To execute this, the bill creates a Regulatory Relief Office that is tasked with identifying laws and regulations to be waived as instructed by the bill.
The bill is sponsored by the committee’s chairman, Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg. Eight professionals from varied industries rose to put their gratitude for the bill on the record.
Those who spoke in support of the bill celebrated the possibility of Missouri joining several states that have adopted regulatory relief programs for innovative industries. However, Missouri would become only the second state to adopt this program and apply it across all industries, with other states narrowing which industries are eligible for relief.
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