Big business behind Rick Perry’s push in Missouri

ST. LOUIS – Rick Perry, the right-wing Republican governor of the Lone Star state, is running a spate of TV and radio ads – backed by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce – here in the Show Me state attacking Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, for vetoing Republican-sponsored cuts to Missouri’s income tax.

In the commercials Perry claims, “Vetoing a tax cut is the same thing as raising your taxes,” which of course is a flat out lie.

In a visit, planned for Thursday, August 29, Perry will urge Missouri Republicans to over-ride the governor’s veto – all in an attempt to make Missouri more like Texas – where, according to Perry, “businesses flourish” and “jobs are created.”

The legislation vetoed by Nixon, HB 253, would reduce state tax collection by over $800 million annually (after a 10-year phase-in), give a 50 percent tax cut to business owners whose income “passes through” Missouri, lower the top personal income tax rate from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent and lower the corporate tax rate by 3 percentage points to 3.25 percent.

As a result, funding for essential state services would be cut, the state’s AAA credit rating would be jeopardized, and taxes would be increased on the elderly, as HB 253 would also impose a state sales tax on prescription medicine.

Rex Sinquefield, a far-right-wing Missouri billionaire, has poured over $2 million into the coffers of the bill’s supporters with the intent of buying our democracy – all so he can pay less in taxes. Sinquefield is also the main backer and funder of the Show Me Institute, a far-right libertarian thank-tank which supports lowering the income tax and creating more tax loopholes for corporations.

Gov. Nixon blasted Perry and the Chamber, saying in part that the “Chamber should support activities that seek to strengthen our economy – not undermine it.”

He added that HB 253 is an “ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible experiment” that would “undermine our state’s fiscal health and jeopardize basic funding for education and vital public services.”

And make no mistake about it: HB 253 would undermine Missouri’s economy, as income taxes in 2013 generated over $5 billion for the Show Me state, which is about 66.5 percent of general revenue or nearly 21 percent of the entire state budget.

Put simply, HB 253 would gut Missouri’s budget – with absolutely no plan to replace the lost revenue.

Corporate / franchise taxes in Missouri in 2013 totaled only about $325 million, or about 1.46 percent of the entire state budget.

Instead of looking for ways to cut Missouri’s largest source of income lawmakers should be looking for ways to grow our budget, fund vital social services and expand funding for education.

Politicians nationally are also currently debating tax policy. Democrats want revenue-based solutions, while Republicans want to continue to cut taxes, especially for the super-rich. With government employees, and the people they serve, continuing to feel the pain from sequestration and with the ongoing debt ceiling battle looming large, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently told reporters “it would be a waste of time” to enter into negotiations regarding taxes if they did not generate “significant revenue” through increased taxes on the rich and corporate profits.

Nationally, corporate profits are at a 60-year high, while corporate taxes make-up only 10 percent of federal revenue, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Corporations and the wealthy need to pay their fair share of taxes. We can and should raise revenue from the richest Americans and the most profitable corporations.

HB 253 and Rick Perry’s visit do nothing to address our state’s budget needs. All it does is deepen the pockets of those who already have deep pockets. And the Republican-backed push to overhaul our tax codes does nothing to fix our fragile economic recovery. All it does is continue the failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

Photo: This scene during protests in Madison, Wis., could apply to Missouri as well. (People’s World photo)




Tony Pecinovsky
Tony Pecinovsky

Tony Pecinovsky is the author of "Let Them Tremble: Biographical Interventions Marking 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA" and author/editor of "Faith In The Masses: Essays Celebrating 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA." His forthcoming book is titled "The Cancer of Colonialism: W. Alphaeus Hunton, Black Liberation, and the Daily Worker, 1944-1946." Pecinovsky has appeared on C-SPAN’s "Book TV" and speaks regularly on college and university campuses across the country.