Taxes rarely go away – but they can
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
By Patrick Werner
A recent article in the Southeast Missourian newspaper titled “Decision on sales taxes delayed by city council” embodies the mental rut that our politicians are stuck in when it comes to taxes.
The Cape Girardeau City Council voted not to put a renewal of the hotel/motel tax and a restaurant tax on the November ballot. If you think your taxes may go down, think again. Mayor Harry Rediger said, “Postponing the vote means the city will not be able to put the question of renewal on the November ballot, but an ordinance could be passed in time for the April election.” In other words, the mayor is leaving the door wide open for keeping the tax.
It is estimated the tax will sunset in early 2014, perhaps before the April election. If the tax sunsets, it would be the first time in more than 30 years that it was allowed to expire.
This isn’t just a local problem. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the first tax rate reduction, passed by the Missouri general assembly, in 92 years. Gov. Nixon’s veto comes in the midst of Missouri’s neighbors going in the opposite direction and slashing their taxes. Just three months ago Indiana brought its income tax down to just over 3.12 percent, slightly above the lowest-in-the-nation rate in Pennsylvania. Ohio passed a $2.6 billion tax cut, lowering the income tax by 10 percent over the next three years. And there’s no forgetting the massive tax cut to Missouri’s west in Kansas. While Gov. Nixon and other politicians can only see more revenue, these states are pointing the way toward a better future for their taxpayers.
However, to see that future requires looking beyond immediate spending wants. Instead of allowing the local tax to expire, the Cape Girardeau City Council is stalling until it determines what project they plan to tax you for next. Will it be a new waterslide at Cape Splash? Perhaps an indoor sports complex? Maybe a new tourism project for downtown Cape Girardeau. It really doesn’t matter because according to Councilman Wayne Bowen, “If it does lapse, I don’t see why we can’t bring it back later.”
Americans for Prosperity — Missouri believes that this “go-to-the-taxpayer-for-more” mentality is why Missouri’s economy comes in at 42nd in the nation. It also may explain why for the past three years, the state has suffered a net loss in migration as taxpayers leave for greener pastures. Instead of looking for new ways to spend taxpayer money, our leaders need to consider lowering taxes as a growth model and let overburdened taxpayers keep a bit more of their hard-earned money.
In the dog days of summer, a new waterslide sounds fantastic, but be careful what you ask [vote] for. If current migration trends continue, in the near future you might have a water park with no residents or visitors to enjoy it. It’s time for Missouri to plan long-term and stop pillaging the taxpayer.
Patrick Werner is state director of Americans for Prosperity — Missouri.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a nationwide organization of citizen-leaders committed to advancing every individual’s right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and intrusiveness of government is the best way to promote individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. For more information, visit www.americansforprosperity.org