Policymakers have used economic development tax credits to gamble with taxpayer money for years, but the results have been disappointing. Missouri continues to fall behind our neighbors, and today we are in the basement in economic growth and job growth compared to the rest of the country.
Tax credits are real money that could have gone instead toward tax relief, and residents of Johnson County should especially take note. Between 1999 and 2011, Missouri issued the equivalent of almost $400 per Missourian in economic development tax credits. In Johnson County? That figure was closer to $200 per person. The state’s tax credit system has not only failed to keep the state on pace with the rest of the country; it has also disproportionately left many counties behind with these development dollars, including Johnson County.
That the legislature is considering creating new tax credits this year rather than eliminating them and giving everyone a tax cut with the savings is very concerning. We should empower Missourians in Johnson County by letting them keep their tax dollars. I trust taxpayers to keep and invest their money to grow the economy. Shouldn’t the state, as well?