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Lawmakers in a handful of states are pushing tax cuts for corporations and other businesses under the guise of spurring economic growth. Florida, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Arizona all made headlines this week for proposed tax cuts of this sort.
In Florida, Governor Scott’s proposed budget plan was released on Monday, and as expected, it included enormous cuts to both corporate income taxes and property taxes. Under Scott’s plan, which he unveiled before a crowd of tea party activists, the state’s already low corporate tax rate would fall from 5 percent to 3.5 percent. At the same time, state spending would plummet by $4.6 billion, with pre-K through university education making up $3.1 billion of that total. Fortunately, even the state’s conservative legislators don’t seem the least bit interested in Scott’s ultra-conservative (and exceedingly vague) ideas.
Kansas lawmakers generated similar headlines this week as bills were introduced in both the House and Senate to phase out the state’s corporate income tax. According to the Wichita Eagle, proponents of the measure are actually claiming that phasing out this major tax would somehow increase tax revenue. We seriously doubt it.
In Iowa, Governor Branstad’s proposal to slash the corporate income tax in half and cut business property taxes by 40 percent received renewed attention this week as the Des Moines Register attempted to summarize the absolutely massive number of tax cuts being proposed by Iowa lawmakers.
Fortunately, Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal isn’t impressed, saying, “Taken as a whole, the Republican budget basically says we’re going to squander the opportunities for the next generation of kids in this state — in terms of education, in terms of access to community college and training programs — we’re going to push that aside and say the most important thing is to make sure corporations have tax cuts.”
Missouri lawmakers also garnered some attention this week when the state Senate endorsed legislation to repeal the state’s franchise tax on businesses over the course of the next five years. Currently, a business must have more than $10 million in assets to be subject to the franchise tax. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an excellent editorial this week in response to the plan, noting: “Businesses were given tax breaks, tax credits, tax incentives, low corporate taxes and tort reform. So where are the jobs? Or did they just pocket the savings? … Business-friendly is one thing. Business-promiscuous is quite another.”
It probably wouldn’t change anything, but it sure would be nice if Arizona lawmakers gave the Post-Dispatch’s editorial a read before beginning debate on the business tax cut package that Governor Brewer plans to release on Monday.