JEFFERSON CITY — Republican leaders in the Missouri House said Monday evening they had filed a plan for one-time $500 tax credits.
The bill, filed by budget chair Rep. Cody Smith of Carthage, has the support of top GOP lawmakers and is similar to a bill earlier proposed by Springfield Republican Sen. Lincoln Hough.
It comes a week after the House passed a $46 billion budget that declined to spend an estimated $1.8 billion in surplus state revenue. This plan would use $1 billion of that money to provide $500 tax credits for any individual who paid income tax in 2021; married couples who filed jointly would receive $1,000.
Smith touted the measure as one to assist with increased costs of living.
“As families struggle to make ends meet with the rising cost of inflation, it’s important that we do everything we can to help them keep more of their hard-earned dollars,” Smith said in a statement. “The state is fortunate to have a record surplus that we can use a portion of to provide direct economic relief to working Missourians.”
State budget:Springfield’s Hough proposes $500 tax credits for all amid budget surplus
Speaker of the House Rob Vescovo, Majority Leader Dean Plocher and Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann said in a statement they had “made it clear that we do not support the idea of spending every available dollar to increase the size of government, but instead believe individual Missourians are the best decision makers for how to spend their tax dollars.”
Democrats, who hold minorities in both chambers of the legislature, have consistently pushed for lawmakers to spend more of that surplus — on education, social spending and other projects. Most of their attempted amendments were shot down during floor debate last week, including one that would have provided $1,000 of cash assistance to low-income households.
“It’s astounding how quickly House Republicans flip-flopped on this idea,” Minority Leader Crystal Quade, a Springfield Democrat, said. “However, unlike the Democratic version that was targeted toward Missourians who would most benefit, the GOP plan primarily benefits the wealthy.”
Given the timing of the proposal and current status of the budget process, it remains to be seen whether the push for tax credits will have the legs to pass. Five weeks remain in the session, and the budget bills now lie in the Senate — where leaders have indicated a desire to spend much of the surplus that would be used for the tax credits.
However, tax credits are consistently popular with voters and a tangible policy decision for lawmakers to point to — which could play a role in its chances of passage with elections this fall.
The bill was referred to the appropriations committee Tuesday morning. It must be heard and voted out by the committee before it reaches discussion on the floor.
Galen Bacharier covers Missouri politics & government for the News-Leader. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, (573) 219-7440 or on Twitter @galenbacharier.