Wayfair Bill Is Chock Full of Goodies
Gov. Parson just signed SB 153 into law. Most of the attention on the bill will focus on the largest part—online sales tax collections. That is understandable, as that is a very important change for Missouri. Online sales tax collection is an idea whose time has come in Missouri.
But there is much more to the bill than online sales tax collections. There were a number of other reforms in the bill, including further tax-increment financing (TIF) reforms.
Prior to this bill, the use of TIF was outlawed in the floodplain only in St. Charles County. Now, the use of TIF is banned in the floodplain statewide except for the exemptions in the bill. While those exemptions are admittedly large, it is still a major step toward saner policy.
It is a very good thing that the baseline law now is that TIF is not to be used in the floodplain where it inevitably becomes a circle of subsidized absurdity: 1) Subsidize the floodplain developments 2) Subsidize the new operations with subsidized flood insurance 3) Increase emergency costs by moving the floodwaters out of that floodplain into someplace new, and, finally 4) Spend a fortune on emergency and rebuilding funds when the next flood inevitably comes and is now even worse than it would have been without additional levees and development.
What are the exemptions? Well, a number of cities and counties appear to have decided that subsidizing floodplain development with TIF is a sacred right, so Kansas City, Hannibal, Jefferson City, and a few more got themselves exempted from the rule. Also, port authorities and levee districts are exempted, although very importantly for port authorities it is only an exemption for actual port projects, and not just for anything that someone wants to operate through a port authority. Don’t get me wrong, we have a number of existing river ports in Missouri and I think subsidizing new ones with TIF projects is a bad idea. We do need a similar rule for the levee districts, too—TIF projects should only support levee infrastructure. (Note—the port and levee exemptions do NOT apply in St. Charles County, which maintains its total floodplain TIF ban except for one long-planned project.)
There’s still work to be done, but this bill represents progress. Hopefully we can continue to move forward on this issue.