An Open Response to St. Louis Magazine Co-Owner Ray Hartmann
Yesterday, St. Louis Magazine co-founder Ray Hartmann wrote about how the Show-Me Institute has been raising questions regarding a proposal to create $360 million in tax credits which would primarily go toward subsidizing warehouse and facility construction in the Saint Louis area. It appears that Hartmann was troubled by Crosby Kemper, Show-Me Institute board member and head of the Kansas City Public Library, authoring an op-ed about why creating hundreds of millions in tax credits is irresponsible.
As the policy analyst leading the Show-Me Institute’s research of the Aerotropolis proposal, I would like to respond to Hartmann’s allegations.
I have never worked on a Republican campaign, in any way, for pay or otherwise. Nor have I worked on a Democratic campaign, in any way, for pay or otherwise. But, in case Hartmann is curious, I have made informational presentations to both Democrats and Republicans who are concerned about the Aerotropolis tax credits.
In fact, this issue is very bipartisan. For example, Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coer, has voiced concerns about the tax credits, and said that she is working with a group of more than a dozen other democrats on ways to change the bill. On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, has written scathing missives about the tax credits.
As a staff member at the Show-Me Institute, I am thrilled that one of our founders chose to publish an op-ed calling out Republicans who say that they are for fiscal responsibility, but then work to create handouts for a small group of developers and warehouse owners in the St. Louis area. Accountability is needed in state politics, and for members of both political parties.
Hartmann searched the Show-Me Institute website for “tea party” and found three references. I am not sure, but from his writing it seems that Hartmann was looking to find a relationship between the Show-Me Institute and a political party. A search of the St. Louis Magazine website results in many more references to the tea party, but any attempt to tie that finding to a relationship between the magazine and the tea party would be similarly as absurd.
Hartmann also seemed intent on denigrating Rex Sinquefield, co-founder of the Show-Me Institute. For the record, the Show-Me Institute has hundreds of donors. We are more than a single board member or co-founder. Staff members choose what public policies to take on, and what projects to pursue. That all being said, I don’t understand how Hartmann could take offense at an active-minded citizen advocating for more effective government. What exactly is wrong with that?
Finally, I would like to extend an offer to Hartmann: I am happy to meet him at any time to provide an information briefing about the Aerotropolis legislation. The Aerotropolis tax credits — from an economics and corporate welfare perspective — are clearly problematic. Hartmann himself, in an earlier column, wrote that he too has misgivings about the Aerotropolis proposal. The only reason he supports these credits is:
Aerotropolis backers claim that the way the state program is structured, not a dime of Missouri tax credits will be given out on the come. Tax credits will only flow after the Chinese planes start landing, and the revenues (and presumably jobs) actually arrive.
This statement is demonstrably false. Under the legislation, tax credits could be awarded if no increased international trade occurs, and in fact could go toward subsidizing business as usual. Proponents have not fixed this loophole, and have not responded to this point.
Considering the facts, perhaps Hartmann might find himself agreeing with the Show-Me Institute.