Lawmakers conflicted over DMV fees, stopping tax credits for older renters
JEFFERSON CITY – A majority of Republicans passed a tax bill Tuesday night, but it is still drawing some criticism from members of the GOP.
Some lawmakers scrutinized the decision to increase DMV fees.
The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, said raising the motor vehicles fees would help pay for infrastructure in the state.
“That’s how we’re going to raise $2 billion for roads and bridges of the next 10 years," he said.
Other representatives want to raise the fuel tax instead, but Haahr argues the fuel tax is a declining source of revenue for the roads. He said cars are becoming more fuel efficient, which means people will eventually not buy as much gas.
He said he believes increasing DMV fees will help provide enough funds in the future.
Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla, voted against the bill and thinks a gas tax should be raised, so big trucks traveling through the state pay their fair share to help pay for roads.
“I see all these big semis using our roads and they wouldn’t bear the burden of an increased tax load that would all fall on Missourians if we’re just raising fees on your license tax,” he said.
More opposition to the bill centers on getting rid of a tax credit for older renters. It's known as the circuit breaker tax credit. Currently older people renting houses and the owners of the houses receive the state tax credit, which is meant to help pay for property taxes.
Many Republicans voted for the bill to end the credit for older renters, saying they are not the ones paying the property taxes.
“I think there is a difference between owning and renting," Frederick said. "I think when you’re an owner you have some risk.”
He said an owner has the risk of losing his or her capital, like a house, if something happens.
“Whereas if you’re a renter, you can just leave and you don’t have those obligations,” Frederick said.
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, voted against the bill and said he thinks renters need the credit.
“I would argue, if anyone needs that money the most, it’s those that can’t even afford to own a home,” Meredith said.
The tax bill would also decrease the individual income tax rate by a half point to 5.5 percent. It would reduce the corporate tax rate from 6.25 to 5 percent.
Merideth said the bill shouldn't be passed right now, because the public’s attention is focused on Gov. Eric Greitens' scandals, and not on the large 400-page tax bill. In February Greitens was indicted on invasion of privacy. Several lawmakers are calling on him to resign.