‘Tis Time For TIF Reform
That title would make a pretty good protest chant, if you ask me. Although the use of “‘Tis” to help with the alliteration would require the protest be held in Britain. But I digress.
If you follow the work of the Show-Me Institute, you are aware (assuming you agree with us) how badly our state needs Tax Increment Financing (TIF) reform. TIF is severely damaging our state. It weakens the tax base, empowers government planners, encourages crony capitalism, encourages eminent domain abuse, favors certain types of businesses over others, damages governments that depend on property taxes and have limited say in the decision (i.e., school districts), and all this for something that, in the end, does not succeed in growing the economy. But other than all that, TIF is great.
There are some important pieces of TIF reform legislation in Jefferson City right now. One of the better pieces is Missouri Senate Bill 774. The bill has passed out of the Senate and is now before the House. The most important thing the bill would do is further restrict how TIF dollars are spent in cases where local municipalities in Saint Louis, Saint Charles, and Jefferson counties override a county TIF commission’s decision against a TIF proposal. According to current law, the three above counties have county TIF commissions that make the choice on TIF, but cities have the ability to easily override the county TIF commission’s rejection. Small cities overriding the county TIF commission happens frequently in Saint Louis and Saint Charles counties (not so much yet in Jefferson County). The counties have tried to exercise discipline on TIF use, but small cities keep overriding their choice (Ellisville [initially], Shrewsbury, Saint Charles, etc.) and harming the larger community. Those new limits that SB 774 would enact are needed and would greatly benefit those counties.
The other good thing in the bill is that it adds Boone County to the list of the prior three where these tighter TIF rules would apply. There are great groups fighting corporate welfare in Boone County, and adding Boone to this list of counties is terrific.
Missouri needs TIF reform for all the reasons listed above and several more. Here’s hoping that the legislature will make this extremely important policy change for our state.