Missouri Lobbyist: A Case for No State Income Tax

By Travis H. Brown

Over the last few years, the Missouri Jobs and Prosperity Act has gone from an idea, to a Resolution that was passed out of the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee, to an Act that was worked on and debated in the MO legislature, and by many groups, businesses and individuals across the state.

Before this joint resolution can go to Missouri voters for approval, it must receive a passing vote in the Senate and a passing vote in the House. To date, several Senate substitutes offered and debated since January of 2010 have made many structural improvements to the measure.

The Missouri Jobs & Prosperity Act (SJR29) focuses on one central message: to kick-start our economy by creating more incentive to keep what you earn. Many economists agree that the single largest factor driving a state’s economic growth policy can be whether or not they tax your income or earnings. The promise is huge: 20,000 net new jobs created each and every year after the transition from income to consumption taxes are made.

Why should Missouri eliminate the state income tax? Economist Dr. Art Laffer answers this question through his research on state competitiveness. He finds states without an income tax are far more competitive than high-tax states. He’s also able to show the volatility of collection over time of income taxes vs. sales taxes, which indicates that Missouri would see more stable, predictable state revenue by relying on a sales tax rather than an income tax.

And why should Missouri make this change now? An essay by Rex Sinquefield and Jack Naudi explains that Missouri is lagging behind the national average in employment growth over the last ten years, while the 9 states without an income tax have added jobs at more than double the national job growth rate during a similar period. They also compare Missouri to Tennessee: once, Missouri outpaced Tennessee in many economic indicators; but after 35 years without a state income tax Tennessee now has a higher per capita GDP, and a higher rate of net in-migration. Missouri has the potential for more growth than we are accomplishing today, and that costs us over time, and it costs Missourians jobs and earning opportunity. The longer we wait, the further we fall behind.

This isn’t an opportunity we can sit on forever. Other states looking for economic recovery, job creation and budget repair have access to the same information Missouri does, and may grasp that competitive advantage before we do. The Christian Science Monitor reports this week on the mass exodus of wealth from high-tax states:

The consequences of migration can be significant. Most people migrating from one state to another aren’t rich, but a good number are big-spending consumers, job-creating entrepreneurs, or philanthropists. One Boston College study found that New Jersey saw $168 billion in wealth walk out of the state from 2004 to 2008.

Many Missourians are starting to recognize that the Missouri Jobs and Prosperity Act is a significant job creation bill. This Tuesday, April 13th, hundreds of Missourians traveled to the Capitol for the Tax Day Tea Party to point lawmakers in the direction they want to head, including eliminating the state income tax. The rally got an update from Sen. Chuck Purgason and Rep. Ed Emery who have worked on this goal in the House and Senate. The rally’s keynote speaker, Michael Reagan, radio host and son of President Ronald Reagan, spoke of lessons he learned from his father.

Through Tea Party rallies across the state, Letters to the Editor, video, blogs, media coverage and social networking, an incredible amount of knowledge, research and news about the Missouri Jobs and Prosperity Act has been shared. It is vital that we press on past April 15th, and continue the conversations and the actions that move us toward the best possible Missouri economy. Follow the progress of the Missouri Jobs and Prosperity Act and learn about how you can get involved to achieve this goal by subscribing to the Americans For Prosperity – Missouri newsletter, Facebook or Twitter updates.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

— Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States