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McCarty, Berry take part in public discussion on taxes


At a public forum on tax policy, Associated Industries of Missouri’s (AIM) Ray McCarty and tax cut legislation sponsor Rep. T.J. Berry (R-Kearney) presented their ideas compared to those of Missouri Association of Social Welfare (MASW) executive director Jeanette Mott Oxford and Rep. Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City).

An audience of about 50 people from throughout the Jefferson City community attended the event and asked questions.

Morgan sponsors House Bill 1989, legislation that changes the state’s income tax rates so that the top income tax bracket is 9 percent for earners making more than $350,000 per year. In her presentation to the group, Morgan outlined tax cuts made by the Missouri legislature since 1997 that she said added up to more than $824 million.

“When we reduce taxes, that money is gone, and we’re never getting it back,” said Morgan. “It hurts education and the rest of the vital services government provides.”

But AIM’s Ray McCarty replied the organization believes the state’s economy needs to continue to grow to provide more revenues for state services. And cutting taxes for businesses is the best way to stimulate that growth.

“We want to see more employers in Missouri employing more people, which will lead to more income taxes being paid,” said McCarty. “And we also believe we should do everything we can to ensure our existing employers are able to compete in the global marketplace.”

Rep. Berry said that is the idea behind his broad-based business tax cutting bill, HB 1253. Owning businesses close to the Missouri line, as Berry does, he sees the competition between the states occurring on a day-to-day basis. But he’s not a big fan of the Kansas, no business tax model.

“I decided we don’t have to go down the Kansas path,” Berry told the audience. “But we do need to protect the businesses that we already have, and we have to compete for new business.”

Berry’s plan calls for business tax cuts of 50 percent over five years of tax revenue growth for all businesses in the state, large and small.

MASW doesn’t prescribe to Berry and McCarty’s ideas on growing the economy. Oxford believes that growing state jobs and revenues can stimulate the state’s economy.

“Whatever tax plan we have needs to produce revenue to be successful,” said Oxford. “There are too many things in our state that are underfunded now. We have inadequate revenues right now.”

The evening, sponsored in part by AIM, was a success in stimulating discussion and information sharing, according to Berry.

“Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not, but I know that when we start defining problems and getting people to understand where we’re coming from, that the prisms shift, and you can really look at all sides and start solving the problems.”

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