A stellar line up of Republican legislators chatted over lunch with The Chamber’s Missouri State Affairs Committee on Friday, April 16. Senator Bill Stouffer, who has long been known as one of the state’s top transportation advocates, focused on the departure of Pete Rahn (Director, Missouri Department of Transportation) and upgrade of 71 highway to Interstate 49. Representative Jerry Nolte shared with the committee the progress of HB 1675, legislation that he has sponsored, entitled the Manufacturing Jobs Act. The purpose of the bill is to offer incentives to manufacturers across the state in order to keep jobs in Missouri, including those at Ford Motor Company. Representative Nolte praised The Chamber’s lobbyists for support on the bill which has passed the House and is currently being heard in Senate committee. House Speaker Pro Tem Pratt wrapped up the discussion with an overview of house activity. He discussed voter ID and early voting legislation, economic development legislation, and Missouri’s budget woes (he among with many others believes next year will be much worse). The three legislators fielded questions from the committee and they all echoed the same fact about improving not only the states but the country’s financial situation—there are currently too many unknowns not settled by the federal government including cap and trade, card check, and healthcare. Until some of these issues are settled and people know the new rules, businesses would not be starting up because of uncertainty.
These are difficult times in Jefferson City-a $500 million budget shortfall. The next three and a half weeks will be nerve wracking!
Kansas State Affairs Committee hears about tax policy and budget shortfalls
Earlier this month, Kansas Revenue Secretary Joan Wagnon, Senator Kelly Kultala, and Representative Sheryl Spalding met with our Kansas State Affairs Committee.
Secretary Wagnon shared an overview and recent history of State tax policy. It was fascinating to see the five-year trend in the State’s General Fund Receipts and Expenditures of continually spending more than they are taking in. The Secretary reminded the group of the obvious, “this current trend of providing services while cutting taxes cannot continue.” She also spoke about the factors that have lead to an eroding tax base, including increasing tax exemptions and tax credits. She told a true story about when she was a Kansas House member and took a bill to the floor to reduce tax exemptions. She said the bill was debated for over four hours on the floor and when all was said and done, the House had actually added two exemptions and gotten rid of none. Our group wasn’t encouraged, but enjoyed the story and levity, nonetheless.
To solve the budget shortfall, Senator Kultala spoke about the interest of some in an income tax increase for the highest tax bracket. Representative Spalding spoke about the various tax packages out there now including possible increases in various “sin taxes” (tobacco, alcoholic beverages, etc). All seemed to agree that, because of the uncertainty of how to fill the budget gaps, the legislature will likely be in a veto session for a long time this year.
Captain Terman showed how graffiti is a blighting influence on a neighborhood, and then took the group only two short blocks away to a community garden where residents have taken an abandoned property and turned it into a beautiful urban oasis.
Jim Heeter now at The Chamber
The Chamber’s new President and CEO Jim Heeter hit the ground running this week. He started with a jam packed Board meeting on Monday and has been busy with meetings in and out of The Chamber offices. Welcome Jim!
KCADC receives a prestigious award
Our friends at the Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC) received a very special recognition this week, the 2010 CoreNet Global Award for Economic Development Leadership. CoreNet is the world’s leading association for corporate real estate and workplace professionals, service providers and economic developers. Learn more at: http://bit.ly/bQkHta.