Michael Rathbone
The tuition hikes that the University of Missouri is instituting are affecting real families all across the state. The Show-Me Institute spoke to one family from Saint Charles County who will be doubly impacted. With an annual increase of $260 per student, the family's mom, Laura (not her real name), said they will have to pay an additional $520 for their two children to attend Mizzou. Will this extra $520 bankrupt the family? It will not, but it will force them to cut back on some much-needed home and auto repairs.

Due to faulty electrical outlets in the home's bathrooms, Laura said that they are forced to dry their hair in the kitchen, and with the extra money needed to pay for college, they will be forced to continue this practice. Laura also said that the family may have to forego putting new tires on their son’s car. It is not difficult to imagine the unnecessary worry this young man’s parents will feel when their son drives to and from Columbia on old and worn out tires, especially if it is raining or snowing.

While the University of Missouri raises tuition on families such as the one described above due to state cuts in higher education funding, historic tax credit authorizations in Missouri are on an upswing. In fact, the $91 million in Historic Preservation tax credits authorized in the first six months of fiscal year 2012 have almost surpassed state estimates for Historic Preservation authorizations for the entire year.

The question should be asked whether handing out tax credits of questionable value (like the $1 million tax credit issued to Norwood Hills Country Club)  is worth more to the citizens of the state than preventing a tuition increase that will affect families across the state.

Considering that the state of Missouri faces a large budget shortfall, it would behoove the state to make sure that, at the very least, tax credits go to worthwhile projects. A possible avenue for oversight of the tax credit system would be to subject tax credits to the appropriations process. Missouri Sen. Jason Crowell (R-Dist. 27) has submitted a bill (SB 436) that does just that, and there are items in the bill that deserve commendation. Subjecting tax credits to appropriations would enable the state to keep closer tabs on these programs and help ensure that questionable issuances are examined. Considering the price that all Missourians pay for these tax credits, is subjecting tax credits to some sort of appropriations process too much to ask?

About the Author

Michael Rathbone
Policy Researcher
Michael Rathbone was a policy researcher at the Show-Me Institute. He is a native of Saint Louis and a 2008 graduate of Saint Louis University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering.