Testimony
Missouri’s Tax Administration Practices: Some Ideas For Improvement Print E-mail
By Michael Rathbone and David Stokes   
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Overall, the three guiding principles in tax policy and tax administration should be simplicity, consistency, and equity. Complexity and inconsistency in administration can cause confusion not only for taxpayers, but also for the people charged with enforcing the state’s rules and regulations.

 
Senate Bill 774: Reforming Tax Increment Financing Districts Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Missouri needs TIF reform. Senate Bill 774 is a beneficial compromise on the subject of TIF.

 
Funding Transportation With A Temporary Sales And Use Tax Print E-mail
By Joseph Miller   
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Upon the legislature’s and voters’ approval, Missouri Senate Joint Resolution 48 (SJR48) would institute a 1 percent sales tax to fund significant transportation infrastructure investment in Missouri.

 
The Use Of Tax Increment Financing In Kansas City Print E-mail
By Patrick Tuohey and David Stokes   
Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Kansas City community is deservedly excited about the expansion of the Burns and McDonnell campus and headquarters within the city. However, neither that excitement nor the undeniable quality of the company necessitates millions of dollars in tax subsidies.

 

 
Fix Transfers, Expand Choice Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ever since the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a student’s right to transfer from an unaccredited school district to a nearby accredited one, Missouri school leaders have coordinated efforts to put an end to the transfer law. Some of the concerns regarding the transfer program hold merit. For instance, the current law has the potential to lead to the bankruptcy of unaccredited districts or to lead to overcrowding in accredited ones. Unfortunately, these problems have led many to ask, “How can we end student transfers?” rather than, “How can we make the transfer law work for students?”

 
Missouri Public Pensions: Their Funding Status And Roadblocks To Reform Print E-mail
By Michael Rathbone   
Tuesday, April 08, 2014

If pension liabilities continue to be understated, the state faces a significant risk and policymakers may be forced to make drastic cuts to services or significantly raise taxes in order to meet the state’s pension obligations. The risk posed to Missouri’s financial well-being is a real and serious one.

 
Proposed Metro Fare Increase: Discussing The Options Print E-mail
By Joseph Miller   
Thursday, April 03, 2014

Raising Metrobus and Metrolink fares are a reasonable and, depending on the elasticity of transit demand, often an effective method for increasing transit revenues.

 
Testimony: Occupational Licensing In Missouri Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Fewer licensing regulations means that goods and services are cheaper for consumers, and fewer job seekers have to ask the government’s permission before working in the occupations of their choosing. Missouri, nonetheless, has plenty of examples of unnecessary licenses at the state and local levels.

 
The Next Step In Flood Plain Protection And Tax Increment Financing Reform Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Tuesday, March 04, 2014

In 2003, Saint Charles County was given a special exemption that disallowed the use of TIF in the flood plain within that county. House Bill 1709 would expand this taxpayer protection state-wide.

 
Reclaiming Local Control Of Education: Missouri House Bill 1490 Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Thursday, February 20, 2014

Standards undergird everything in education. By adopting Common Core, Missouri has ushered in an era of greater centralized control of our education system. House Bill 1490 will allow Missourians to reclaim that control.

 
Aerotropolis By Any Other Name Print E-mail
By Patrick Ishmael   
Monday, February 17, 2014

When the Missouri Legislature originally considered subsidizing the half-billion dollar “Aerotropolis” project in 2011, the Show-Me Institute had numerous questions. Where, for instance, was the research that substantively showed the plan would work? Why should Missouri subsidize new warehouses around Lambert-St. Louis International Airport when so much warehouse space is already unused? Why were many prominent Aerotropolis supporters claiming that if the incentives were approved, mountains of Missouri beef would be shipped by plane to China – when not only was it illegal to ship American beef to China at the time, it would have been impractical even if it were not illegal? Those questions and others were not adequately answered, and the incentive package, and the special session that was called to consider the proposal, failed as a result.

That brings us to today’s version of the Aerotropolis project, the $60 million “Missouri Export Incentive Act.” While this bill is considerably pared back from the original, the practical and policy problems that beset that first Aerotropolis attempt should not be forgotten.

 
Electrician Licensing In Missouri Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Would it surprise you to know that areas with more stringent electrician licensing actually have higher rates of electrocutions? It is true. Economists Sidney Carroll and Robert Gaston documented it in a very thorough study.1 While that finding may surprise you, the reasoning is fairly simply. Licensing increases costs. Higher costs lead to more do-it-yourself work, and that leads to more accidents. States with stricter dental licensing laws have a higher incidence of poor dental hygiene for the same basic reason.2 Similar, though perhaps less drastic, effects can be found in many other licensed occupations.

In occupational licensing, the government, usually in combination with a board or commission it establishes, sets standards and requirements as to who can practice a certain occupation. These standards can take the form of educational requirements, training hours, practice standards, continuing education classes, work documentation, background checks, etc. Licensure usually adds significant costs to becoming a member of the occupation, which is generally the whole point of it from the perspective of current practitioners who are grandfathered in when licensing is enacted.

 
House Bill 1512: Reforming Tax Increment Financing Districts Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Missouri needs TIF reform. House Bill 1512 is a beneficial compromise on the subject of TIF. The combination of a very large number of local governments and the inclusion of sales taxation in Missouri TIF law has been a dangerous mixture. 

 
House Bill 1501: The DALATC Does Not Deserve To Be Renewed Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Tuesday, February 04, 2014

When the previous DALATC program expired last year, Missouri taxpayers benefitted. According to the Missouri Accountability Portal, the primary beneficiary of that DALATC program has already received approximately $43 million from it in tax credits for a project in North Saint Louis. That money is in addition to a $390 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) subsidy package that the City of Saint Louis approved for the exact same project. That is a total subsidy approaching a half billion dollars. When, and how much, is enough? The subsidy game is now a part of the mindset of business in Missouri. The legislature did the right thing by refusing to extend this tax credit last year, and that discipline would continue to benefit Missouri taxpayers going forward.

When the state spends millions of dollars on one potential development, it is taking a huge risk with taxpayers’ money. The state is risking that one developer will transform North Saint Louis and remove all of its societal problems. How can we trust that the bet will pay off? Who is on the line if this project fails?

 
Corporate And Pass-Through Income Taxation: Time For Reform Print E-mail
By Patrick Ishmael   
Tuesday, February 04, 2014

For the past decade, Missouri has fallen behind its sister states in economic growth. As noted in our paper “Cutting the Ties That Bind: End Missouri’s Corporate Income Tax,” Missouri’s economic performance places it in the bottom tier nationally. It's time to reform corporate and pass-through income taxes.

 
Testimony: Funding Transportation With A Temporary Sales And Use Tax Print E-mail
By Joseph Miller   
Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Upon the legislature’s and voters’ approval, Missouri House Joint Resolution 68 (HJR68) would institute a 1-cent sales tax to fund significant transportation infrastructure investment in Missouri. The tax would expire after 10 years. HJR68 also proposes placing a freeze on the motor fuel tax and prohibiting the state, counties, and municipalities from tolling highways or bridges unless voters give approval.

 
Testimony: Missouri’s Taxing Environment: Some Ideas For Reform Print E-mail
By Michael Rathbone   
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Taxes affect the decisions that people make about spending and investing their money. In an analysis of Missouri’s tax structure, Show-Me Institute Chief Economist Joseph Haslag found that a land tax would cause less economic harm than income taxes, and among income taxes, income taxes on capital are the most harmful. Haslag also found that if the state replaced its income tax with a revenue neutral sales tax, it would realize faster economic growth.

 
Paving The Way To Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure Print E-mail
By Joseph Miller   
Friday, December 20, 2013

To maximize the benefit of every dollar spent on transportation infrastructure, MoDOT should focus on matching infrastructure supply with transportation demand, while supporting flexibility in the public transportation sector.

 
The Use Of Tax Increment Financing In The City Of Saint Louis (Downtown) Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

St. Louis has a history of tax subsidies, but does Laclede Gas really need an $8 million TIF to move just two blocks?

 
School Transfers: The Answer Is More Choice, Not Less Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Monday, September 23, 2013

The purpose behind the school transfer law is clear: students should not be trapped in failing schools. The implementation of the law, however, has created much consternation and concern about the ramifications the law will have.

 
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