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LOCAL Announcement :: Economy and Trade : Local politics

please join community, religious, labor groups in opposing tax cut for wealthiest

ASSAULT ON MISSOURI'S FUTURE

Missouri is experiencing a crisis. The state has cut more than three billion dollars from funding for needed services over the past five years. Yet our governor and leaders in our state legislature declare that the state has a "revenue surplus" and want to permanently cut taxes for higher income individuals and profitable corporations.

For more information:
Bob Quinn, executive director, Missouri
Association for Social
Welfare: 573-634-2901
Pat Martin, chair, Missourians for Tax Justice: 314-966-6674
Greg Jung, president, Missouri National
Education Association: 800-392-0236

But when the over-three billion dollars in funding cuts are taken into account, it is clear that there is no "surplus." It's a mirage.

We face extreme difficulties in the near future if the proposed permanent tax cuts are enacted by our lawmakers. With reckless disregard for the people's welfare, new ways to reduce the state's revenue have been approved by the Missouri House almost every week. Will Missouri be able to pay in the future for the basic essential services we need? Our state legislators will be answering that question in the next three weeks with their decisions on permanent cuts in the state's revenue.

We call upon citizens to protest this assault on tax justice and the state's ability to fund vital services. State legislators need to hear from the people. We cannot afford any tax cut. And, the proposed cuts would make our state tax system even more unfair and inequitable.

An effort to shrink government and protect the pocketbooks of the wealthy is a major reason for many of the damaging proposals under consideration by our state legislators. Many leaders among our lawmakers want to persuade us that government is evil and taxes are punishment.

Taxes are not punishment, but a duty that civilized people have adopted as the way to provide for the common good. State government is an organization that ordinary citizens created to arrange for a code of laws and the provision of services needed for the well-being of the people and the community — the state.

180,000 Missourians lost health care when lawmakers cut the Medicaid program two years ago. The Governor's new replacement program, "Healthnet," approved by the Senate, does not restore that coverage, but makes health care access and real coverage even harder to attain. This measure is Senate Bill 577. It has already been passed by the Senate and is now under consideration in the House.

Our state colleges and universities are seriously under funded. Twenty years ago the state paid 75 percent of the cost of operation of higher education. Today, it's only 40 percent. Reducing public funds for higher education is the same as imposing an additional tax on anyone who wants to attend a college.

Though our Missouri constitution requires that state funding for public elementary and secondary schools must be our first spending priority, state funds for our local public schools are inadequate. It is estimated that at least $800 million more is needed yearly for adequate funding. The state's inadequate level of school funding has resulted in the need for local school tax increases and led to the current lawsuit that attempts to compel the legislature to fulfill its constitutional obligation to establish and maintain our public schools.

Some citizens have been seduced into supporting House Bill 444 by shrill false claims of "double taxation" regarding our present policy on taxation of Social Security benefits. But each citizen regularly pays local, state, and federal taxes out of the same income. Each tax has different purposes and supports our common life in different ways. The point is not whether one paycheck is taxed in more than one way. The real questions are: Are our taxes fair? And what is the quality of our common life together?

72% of elderly Missourians would receive no benefit from the change on taxation of Social Security benefits in House Bill 444. This is a tax cut for the rich since only the better-off 28% of elderly Missourians would benefit.

The state will lose over $100 million under the original version of House Bill 444. The many additions to this bill by House members caused the bill's cost to triple. The loss of revenue from this bill will increase rapidly as Baby Boomers reach retirement age. Even if this tax cut proposal is scaled back, it will make state revenue more inadequate to meet needs.

What serious need could $100 million fill?

$100 million, with its federal Medicaid match, would provide Medicaid insurance for 75,000 working parents a year.

Our lawmakers have a choice. They may be reached by telephone at the State Capitol by calling the Capitol Operator: 573-751-2000. It's time for the people to speak out.

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This Joint Statement is from: Missouri Association for Social Welfare; Missouri National Education Association; Missourians for Tax Justice; League of Women Voters of Missouri; Missouri Impact; Lutheran Family and Children's Services of Missouri; Grass Roots Organizing; Alliance for Democracy, Missouri Chapter; Americans for Democratic Action, Missouri Chapter; Northeast Missouri Client Council; Democracy for Missouri; Social Concerns Office, Diocese of Jefferson City; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, St. Louis Branch; Jobs with Justice, St. Louis Area; Feed My People; Neighborhood Enterprises; Social Witness Policy Action Team, Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, Presbyterian Church USA.
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Missourians for Tax Justice
P.O. Box 31781
St. Louis, MO 63131
314-966-6674
motaxjustice@charter.net
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