Business Groups Rate Missouri Legislators’ Efforts
(St. Charles, MO) – In football terms, the second half of the 2013 Missouri Legislative Session gets underway this week.
How are lawmakers doing in the eyes of Missouri’s business community?
Both Brad Jones from Missouri’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and Associated Industries of Missouri President Ray McCarty weigh in on that.
As lawmakers return to the Capitol, Jones says they – and interest groups around the state – get back to work with a better idea of which issues to keep working on and which to think about pushing next year.
“If you haven’t had a bill heard in your own house committee by Spring Break, it probably isn’t going to have time to pass.”
The Legislative session ends May 17th.
Jones calls the progress on a plan to change Missouri’s tax rates “exciting.” That proposal would lower the personal and business income taxes over the next five years while increasing the sales tax rate. That matters to small business in a way most people may not realize, according to Jones.
“From the small business standpoint, about 70% of them actually pay [taxes] as individuals.”
“Anything you do to the individual income tax, you’re doing to small business.”
Jones says that’s around 130,000 business owners in the state. He also believes lowering taxes would impact the entire state, saying business owners won’t pocket the extra money not spent on taxes; they’ll use it to increase business. In other words: he thinks that means more people being hired.
“The greatest economic development tool is lowered taxes on your businesses.”
In addition to tax policy, both Jones and McCarty want to see changes to the state’s workers’ compensation plan, especially the role of the Second Injury Fund.
Jones wants state officials to remember the impact state policy has on businesses in addition to the workers who rely on the claims. Workers’ compensation, for instance, is a cost that affects the rest of the budget.
While the workers’ comp system is improving, according to Jones, the Second Injury Fund and the costs associated with it still worry employers.
“…over the past 10 to 15 years, that fund has been tapped at an incredible rate and now it’s broke.
“We need to get it either solvent or gone…but, in its present form, we’re not too excited about the prospects.”
While NFIB is not saying much right now about the proposed Medicaid expansion in the state, Associated Industries of Missouri is on board.
“Because it’s become so politicized, you know, people associate this Medicaid expansion with ‘ObamaCare’ and, frankly, Missourians don’t like ‘ObamaCare’…regardless of where you stand on ‘ObamaCare”, one of the things the federal bill did is it cut payments to hospitals and providers to provide services to people who can’t pay.”
McCarty says expanding Medicaid, with mostly federal money, would help offset those costs that would otherwise be passed on to consumers through higher insurance rates or higher hospital costs.
AIM’s support for the plan, though, is somewhat conditional. McCarty says the current Medicaid system needs reformed if it’s going to be expanded. Specifically, McCarty says inefficiencies and fraud need to be eliminated right away.
Among the proposals AIM wants to see passed this year is so-called “Right To Work” legislation that would ban the requirement of union membership as a condition of employment. McCarty isn’t holding his breath on that one, though, as the Governor has promised a veto and even the Republican super-majorities don’t appear to have the votes needed to override that.
On the web:
NFIB Missouri http://www.nfib.com/missouri