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26 October 2011

Kraus: Special Session Ends

Special Session Officially Ends

This week, the Missouri Senate adjourned sine die, which means we closed the special session started in September. The Senate spent $46,366 in taxpayer money during the session. While all of us wish we had been able to work a deal to curb tax credits and provide incentives for Missouri businesses to add jobs, the Senate as a whole could not accept the House’s version of a bill designed to spur economic development and reform our state’s tax credits.

In the past, I have discussed the need for sunsets to review all tax credit programs. Sunsets became the buzz word of the session. Since the House’s version did not include sunsets on the two biggest programs, many senators could not support that version. But a bigger picture emerged when we learned that the House version actually cost Missouri taxpayers $300 million over 15 years. The Senate version would have saved taxpayers close to a billion dollars over that same time frame. In the end, that gap was too big to bridge.

My biggest concern with our lack of success is for next year’s budget. Tax credits chew up about $500 million in money that could be going to education and other critical programs. I had hoped we would free some of that up, but, since we haven’t, it will be another very tough budget year.

The General Assembly did pass two bills during the special session. The first bill, SB 1, fixed some language which troubled teachers regarding their ability to interact with students online. The second, SB 7, provided incentives, subject to appropriations, for new or expanding science and technology innovators. Both have been signed by the governor.

Preparing for 2012 Regular Session

My office is now focused on preparing for the regular session which will begin in January. As part of that preparation, I have several meetings with local educators and I am hosting a series of small meetings for business owners, as well as for local municipal and school elected officials. If you fit into one of those groups and would like to attend a meeting, please call my Capitol office at 573-751-1464 to schedule a meeting. We are also planning at least one more town hall and will publicize that in a future Capital Report and in local newspapers.

Another part of our preparation for the upcoming session is researching and beginning the drafting process on bills I plan to file. I can give you a preview of my legislation/bills by telling you I will continue to focus on legislation that makes government small and provides an environment where businesses can grow. Last year, we passed several bills that came to us at the recommendation of residents of the 8th District. If you have a suggestion for legislation, I would be glad to hear it. Please email me your ideas at will{dot}kraus{at}senate{dot}mo{dot}gov.

District Office Reminder

Finally, don’t forget we have a new district office at 4201 Lakewood Way (Suite 100) in Lee’s Summit (Lakewood Way is located on the east outer road of I-470 between Lakewood Blvd. and Woods Chapel Road). Please let us know if you would like to stop by. Our regular office hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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