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Tax Cut Approved

April 25, 1996
By: ELIZABETH MCKINLEY
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri taxpayers are one step closer to getting a two-cent-per-dollar sales tax cut on food.

After voting to shut off debate. the House voted 151-1 to give first round approval to the food tax cut on Thursday.

The bill would cut taxes by 2 cents for every dollar spent on food. It would not cut taxes on restaurant meals. The cut would apply only for food that is not consumed on the premises of the store - items that are authorized by the federal food stamp program to be purchased with food stamps.

If you spend an average of $200 on groceries per month, with a 2 cents savings on the dollar, you'd save $48 per year.

In total, legislative staff estimate the bill would cut state tax collections $174 million per year.

But Republicans are saying the tax cut is not as much as they would like.

"Republicans want the full three-cent food tax cut, and Democrats used their majority status to makes sure you, the taxpayer, only got two-cents," House Republican Leader Mark Richardson said in a prepared statement issued shortly after the House vote.

The House voted 82-73 to wave debate on Thursday, which means no additional amendments could be added to the bill before the House gave it their first round approval.

"We're really disappointed in the parliamentary shenanigans that came about here today," said Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff. "We're happy to finally see after three months of talking with the governor, he's let the... body start moving some legislation."

Other Republicans charged House politics had returned to the days of Bob Griffin, the House Speaker who retired this year after a 15-year reign.

"The spirit of Bob Griffin has returned to the chamber," said Rep. Todd Akin, R-St. Louis County.

But Chris Sifford, spokesman for Gov. Mel Carnahan, said the governor is very pleased with the progress that was finally made on the legislation.

"We did not see any movement for such a long time that we were very pessimistic we would ever see any movement," Sifford said.

Carnahan originally had recommended an across-the-board cut in the sales tax of one-fourth of a penny per dollar on all purchases. It would have cost state government an estimated $150 million per year.

The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, had been placed on an informal calender for weeks without bringing it up for debate.

Jacob had said he did not bring the sales tax cut up for debate because he was trying to work out an agreement before it hit the floor.

Rep. William Marshall, R-Greenfield, was the only representative to vote "no" on the bill. He said he did not vote against a tax cut, but rather against the process.

"I support a sales tax cut on food, but I don't like the way it was handled," he said.