(The Center Square) — The House Budget Committee voted 19 to 8 on Tuesday to advance a bill giving Missourians a $500 tax credit, $1,000 for married couples who file jointly.
Representative Cody Smith, R-Carthage, said at the end of the hearing that he would ask House Bill 3021 be finalized on the floor on Wednesday and be voted on Thursday to be sent to the Senate.
Democrats on the committee have tried to change the bill to make the tax credit refundable or allow people with low income tax to claim a refund beyond the current tax year.
A study by the Missouri Budget Project, a nonprofit public policy organization, found that one-third of Missouri taxpayers, including low-wage families and seniors who depend on Social Security income, would not be eligible for the tax credit. The organization said these groups pay a significant portion of their income in sales, property and other state and local taxes.
“While we oppose the legislation in its current form because it leaves out so many taxpayers, we hope that if it or other tax refund proposals progress in the remaining weeks, policymakers will prioritize — or at least will include — the most struggling Missourians to pay for gas and put food on the table,” said Traci Gleason, spokeswoman for the Missouri Budget Project.
Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, rattled Democrats trying to amend the bill by telling the committee that a mother working double shifts at Walmart in her district had asked her to speed up the grant tax credit.
“It puts the refund back in the hands of the people who paid taxes,” Kelly said. “I’m going to vote against this amendment so we can make sure we take care of hard-working people.”
Representative Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, had an amendment similar to Senate Bill 1138which offers a refundable credit, was rejected.
“The suggestion that it’s not the hard working people…as has been said, it’s hard not to get upset,” Merideth said. “If you don’t think people who fall into that category don’t work every day just to get food on the table and get by… I don’t know where you live. But I think it’s important to understand that the bill as it is, with the non-refundable tax credit, almost a third of people in Missouri get nothing.
Rep. Kevin Windham, D-Hillsdale, had his amendment to make the refundable tax credit rejected. Another committee member, Rep. Ingrid Burnett, D-Kansas City, said she declined to introduce her amendment to make it refundable once she heard feedback.
“In response to the statement that we don’t want to help the poor, I reject that,” Smith said. “I’m just going to dismiss that notion out of hand. I would highlight the $46.5 billion budget that we just passed, which dramatically increases a range of social services to an unprecedented level for low-income people. And I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, we subsidize their food, their education, their rent, their utilities, their health care, their transportation, and even higher education.