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House Shelves Tax Cut

April 23, 1996
By: ELIZABETH McKINLEY
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The first Democrat attempt at full House floor debate on a tax cut bill was shelved Tuesday. The House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, said after the House session he was dropping the bill after Republicans boosted the total price tag.

The Republican amendment in question would have exempted any taxpayer with an income of $16,000 or less from state income taxes. Currently, only taxpayers with incomes less than $9,000 are exempt.

"If we have a concern for those in the poverty level, for God's sake, why should we tax them," said Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis County, the amendment's sponsor.

Although the amendment passed without opposition, Jacob later said he thought the amendment would cost too much money.

Earlier, another Republican amendment would have placed one of the largest tax increases in Missouri's history on a ballot. The amendment would have sent a $300 million education tax increase, which the legislature approved in 1993 at Gov. Mel Carnahan's suggestion, to a vote of the people.

"Apparently, this is a very sensitive point," said Rep. Todd Akin, R-St. Louis County, the amendment's sponsor.

House Speaker Steve Gaw, D-Moberly, ruled this proposed amendment did not relate to the bill being debated.

Jacob said he was not going to bring up any more substitutes for the bill. "What good would that do? We'd be back to square one," he said.

Throughout debate in the House, Jacob repeatedly called for a limit on the proposed amendments to his bill.

"Something has to change the way the legislature addresses issues," Jacob said. "There are millions of people representing various interests, which creates a difficult situation," Jacob said.

But Republicans said this was going against the basic democratic process.

"That goes against the process our forefathers set up," said Lograsso, of Blue Springs. "Representative Jacob would have a different opinion if he wanted to add amendments on a bill."

Lograsso said the killing of the bill was typical of the governor and Jacob. He said over half of the House supported all the amendments.

"The governor and Ken are saying 'we don't like what you did,'" Lograsso, of Blue Springs, said. "Let the governor use his veto power."

The proposed bill would have provided $6,000 in tax relief to private pensioners and increased the amount for dependents to $1,200, giving an $800 extra to taxpayers with dependents over 65 years old.

Jacob said he still had hope for another bill that would cut taxes on food. The bill had been placed on an informal calender, despite never being debated in the House. Jacob said he wants to take up this bill next.