Signs of Progress on Local Tax Subsidies in Missouri?
I am an optimist at heart. In my world, the glass is half-full, usually—more than ever during the pandemic—with tonic and gin.
So I am excited by some recent, positive steps in the area of local tax subsidies. For too long, state and local governments in Missouri have erroneously believed that tax subsidies spur growth. In fact, the opposite is true. They almost always fail in their purpose of increasing economic growth. Slowly but semi-surely, more people seem to be realizing that.
In Kansas City, there is a serious debate over a bill to further tighten the subsidies offered by the city government (here is my testimony on this bill). When it was first introduced, the bill was stronger. The current version does not go far enough, but, hey: baby steps, man, baby steps. If the bill tightens up subsidy rules at all—and it does—then I think it would benefit Kansas City.
I have already written about Chesterfield rejecting a community improvement district (CID)recently. Hopefully, this is part of this larger trend, both in St. Louis County and statewide.
Earlier this week, the St. Louis County Council delayed a proposal to use tax dollars to support a private youth sports development in Hazelwood. This is a slightly different issue. The tax money at issue here is not an abatement or tax break. St. Louis County would be using hotel tax money raised via measures passed by voters to support tourism-related projects. Nonetheless, the questions raised by those on the council are valid. They want to be certain that if there is a shortfall in hotel tax money (a very reasonable concern in the present environment) that the developer is on the hook for any shortfall, not St. Louis County taxpayers via general revenue tax dollars.
That said, this is fundamentally a private development. While I wish the developers well as they attempt to replace the fiscal, environmental, and totally predictable disaster that was the Hazelwood Mills Mall, they should rely on private funding, not public tax dollars. The fact that elected officials of both parties are questioning the spending is heartening.
Now, time for that tonic and gin . . .