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Missouri Senate ends special session with passage of agricultural tax credits

This Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
This Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Missouri’s special session centered around taxation is over.

The state Senate passed an agricultural tax credit bill on Tuesday that includes incentives for meat processing, urban farming and purchases of farm equipment. The bill passed 26-3 and now heads to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk, where he is expected to sign it.

“I support this legislation because I recognize that the agriculture industry touches every Missourian’s life,” said Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City. “It is appropriate for the state to intervene in some ways to support our farmers and our agricultural industry.”

In some respects, the agricultural tax credit bill was much less controversial than the other item on the special session agenda — an income tax cut that passed last week. The agricultural tax credit received bipartisan support during the regular session, but Parson, among other reasons, didn’t like how some of the incentives were only in place for two years.

Still, the legislation didn’t receive universal praise on Tuesday.

Sen. Mike Moon, R-Lawrence County, questioned whether it was fair to provide tax credits based on someone's vocation. He unsuccessfully sought to attach an amendment that would have barred agricultural entities that foreign companies control from receiving incentives.

“That’s great for the recipient,” Moon said. “But how about the parent who is raising children without help? How about the business operator who is being taxed and has no relief?”

While she voted for the bill, Arthur criticized the decision to pursue a tax cut as shortsighted — especially when she’s heard from constituents that a lack of available and affordable child care is a more pressing concern.

“This is sort of a weird economic moment,” Arthur said. “There are different kinds of problems. And often, I get a little frustrated that the only solution is tax cuts. So if we have inflation, the solution is tax cuts. If we have a recession, the answer is tax cuts. If we have any number of economic issues, the go-to solution is tax cuts.”

Republicans, including Parson, have contended it makes sense to cut the state’s income tax when there’s a massive surplus and more money coming to the state from a federal infrastructure bill. Democrats, though, argue that the benefit for working-class Missourians will be relatively small, while the impact on funding core state services could be much greater.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum 

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Since entering the world of professional journalism in 2006, Jason Rosenbaum dove head first into the world of politics, policy and even rock and roll music. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Rosenbaum spent more than four years in the Missouri State Capitol writing for the Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri Lawyers Media and the St. Louis Beacon. Since moving to St. Louis in 2010, Rosenbaum's work appeared in Missouri Lawyers Media, the St. Louis Business Journal and the Riverfront Times' music section. He also served on staff at the St. Louis Beacon as a politics reporter. Rosenbaum lives in Richmond Heights with with his wife Lauren and their two sons.