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17 December 2010

Stouffer: Taking a Real Look At Tax Credits

Missouri lawmakers have been talking about tax credits for several years now. Unfortunately, no real action has been taken towards reform.

While some conservatives believe tax credits are a way to stimulate economic growth with tax dollars that already belong to the people, others feel it is a big government approach to picking winners and losers in what should be a free market.

I received quite a bit of criticism for not supporting an expansion of tax credits for Ford Motor Company earlier this year. Ford did not even ask for the governor to seek the incentive, but Ford did support the idea. It passed in a special legislative session.

However, a new report issued by the governor’s Tax Credit Review Commission, may provide a framework for reform. The panel recommended cutting 28 tax credit programs, which would save the state approximately $220 million. The commission also recommended making improvements to another 32 programs. This may be a good start.

This new panel found tax credits have grown by 408 percent since 1998, from $107 million to $522 million. The amount is predicted to jump to $698 million during the current fiscal year, which will continue until July 1, 2011. Today, many folks are predicting a $700 million shortfall in our next fiscal year.

Unfortunately, these incentives are dispersed without any scrutiny, because tax credits are not generally part of the budgeting process. Over the last two years, any attempts that have been made to scale back spending on certain tax credit programs, or even cap the amount that can be spent for some, has been held up by lawmakers who do not want to see them taken away.

Tax credits were first used in the 1990s as a way to get around refunding tax overpayments through the Hancock Amendment. Many believe tax credits have become entitlements for special interests. These are folks who do not necessarily need your tax dollars handed to them; in addition, these handouts may cause folks to make investments the free market would not sustain.

We have new leadership coming into both Missouri’s Senate and House. Maybe 2011 will be the year that we take a serious look at tax credits. When the General Assembly starts to work on the fiscal year 2012 budget, maybe some of the money that goes toward tax credits will no longer be there and will, instead, be a part of the trimming that the Legislature needs to do to the entire state budget.

16 December 2010

Davis: America is Special

Cynthia Davis Goes to Washington

We are so fortunate to have U.S. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer representing a portion of our district.  He is an honorable man, and it was my pleasure to overlap two years with him in the Missouri House of Representatives.  I went to Washington DC recently for a conference and was treated very cordially by his office staff who took our photo.

I also found Congressman Dr. Ron Paul.   He shares the same D.C. building with our own Congressman Todd Akin. His office staff treated me as if I were from Texas!  This week a New York Times article wrote this about him: After years of blocking him from a leadership position, Paul's fellow Republicans have named him chairman of the House subcommittee on domestic monetary policy, which oversees the Federal Reserve as well as the currency and the valuation of the dollar.

America is Special

It's not just that we have generated the most prosperity, have the most enduring constitution and serve as a model to which other civilizations wish to aspire.  These benchmarks are merely the fruit of our common belief system.  You may ask, "How can we have a common belief system when there is such diversity among millions of people?"  The answer lies in our common creeds -the principles set forth in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

As a result, people here have enjoyed greater freedom and autonomy than any other country.  This is not sheer luck.  It is a result of our foundational principles.  We believe that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.  These God-given rights are what distinguish us from all other nations who believe rights are granted by the government.

Our remarkable success has created American Exceptionalism.  This is far more than pride in our homeland; it is an acknowledgement that our country has surpassed all other civilizations in a remarkable way. Never to be duplicated before or since!  While other countries struggle under iron-fisted rulers, our country believes that "We the people" are the government.  We govern ourselves to a great degree, but this is only possible so long as we retain a common ethic of right and wrong.  It is remarkable how many of our founders said that our morality is a prerequisite of the blessings of liberty. Although there are individual aberrations, our country has a national conscience and a national personality that loves liberty, is friendly and is the most generous nation on earth.  We have nothing for which to apologize to other nations.

My son is required to take a class on political correctness as a requirement to be a public school teacher.  In the class the teacher told the students they should not use the word "America" anymore because it makes us sound like we are the center of the universe.  It's true that other places are called "America"; however, when we say it in the context or our nation, people know it is in reference to the exceptional nation, distinctive among all others. Loyalty to our country is a virtue.  George Washington said it best:
"Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations." –George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

America is the most exceptional model of fair, just and free government ever known to mankind and the clear thinking citizens aren't afraid to say so!

Our Planet Earth is Special

The planet Earth is also exceptional because we are the only place in the known universe that can sustain life. Scientists have spent exhaustive amounts of time and money to see if they can find life anywhere else and after searching billions of light years and almost every known galaxy, they have come up with nothing.  For them, if the Earth is the only place they can find life, it also shows there must be a creator because this couldn't just happen.  If evolution had merit, it would be duplicated somewhere else.  If it can't be duplicated then the Earth is exceptional.

Missouri is Also Special

Our Missouri constitution has some parts that are better than our US Constitution.  For example, Missouri's Bill of Rights states:
  1. "Missouri is a free and independent state...all proposed amendments…affecting the individual liberties of the people or which in any wise may impair the right of local self-government belonging to the people of this state, should be submitted to the conventions of the people." (Section 4).
  2. "All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no human authority can control or interfere with the rights of conscience;" (Section 5).
  3. "No law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech, no matter by what means communication; that every person shall be free to say, write or publish, or otherwise communicate whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuses of that liberty;"  (Section 8)
  4. "…The court shall excuse any woman who requests exemption there-from before being sworn as a juror."  Section 22 (b)
  5. "Private property shall not be taken for private use …except for private ways of necessity, and except for drains and ditches across the lands of others for agricultural and sanitary purposes…" (Section 28)
  6. "To be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.  (Section 33)

Packing up the Office

Due to term limits, I am getting ready to shut down our office at the Missouri Capitol.  In keeping with the tradition of emailing Capitol Reports every Thursday, I have two more Capitol Reports left to send.  I plan on continuing to communicate with all of you who have enjoyed my reports.

If you want to continue receiving news, analysis and humor, please click here:
If you want to stop receiving this information after December 31 please click here:  

If you would like to have your own copy of the Missouri Constitution, I still have some available and would be happy to give you one.  Your thoughts are important to me, so please let me know what you think about American exceptionalism. You can send me your opinion by clicking here: Cynthia Davis

A Little Bit of Humor

Sixteen ways to prep for ski season

16. Visit your local butcher and pay $30 to sit in the walk-in freezer for a half an hour. Afterwards, burn two $50 dollar bills to warm up.

15. Soak your gloves and store them in the freezer after every use.

14. Fasten a small, wide rubber band around the top half of your head before you go to bed each night.

13. If you wear glasses, begin wearing them with glue smeared on the lenses.

12. Throw away a hundred dollar bill-now.

11. Find the nearest ice rink and walk across the ice 20 times in your ski boots carrying two pairs of skis, accessory bag and poles. Pretend you are looking for your car. Sporadically drop things.

10. Place a small but angular pebble in your shoes, line them with crushed ice, and then tighten a C-clamp around your toes.

9. Buy a new pair of gloves and immediately throw one away.

8. Secure one of your ankles to a bed post and ask a friend to run into you at high speed.

7. Go to McDonald's and insist on paying $8.50 for a hamburger. Be sure you are in the longest line.

6. Clip a lift ticket to the zipper of your jacket and ride a motorcycle fast enough to make the ticket lacerate your face.

5. Drive slowly for five hours - anywhere - as long as it's in a snowstorm and you're following an 18 wheeler.

4. Fill a blender with ice, hit the pulse button and let the spray blast your face. Leave the ice on your face until it melts. Let it drip into your clothes.

3. Dress up in as many clothes as you can and then proceed to take them off because you have to go to the bathroom.

2. Slam your thumb in a car door. Don't go see a doctor.

1. Repeat all of the above every Saturday and Sunday until it's time for the real thing!