Lawmakers Question Governor's Budget Balance

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate Appropriations Committee chair said Wednesday he was concerned the governor's plan to balance the budget relies too much on unknown quantities.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said about $165 million of the governor's budget comes from measures that have not passed in prior legislative sessions, such as cutting the so-called circuit breaker tax credit. Schaefer said if these measures don't pass, the budget would be out of balance and funding for numerous programs would have to be redistributed.

According to the 2010 Tax Credit Review Commission Report, the credit, whose proper name is the Property Tax Credit, is available to senior citizens and the disabled as long as their income is less than $30,000 if they own their own home, or $27,500 if they rent it. The commission recommended the credit be eliminated for renters.

Budget Director Linda Luebbering told the Senate Appropriations Committee the governor would like to eliminate the tax credit for renters and use that money to improve other services for seniors and the disabled. Luebbering said it is not as clear with renters whether they are paying their taxes directly. Luebbering said Governor Nixon supports this and other conclusions by the 2010 commission. In addition to the tax credit, Luebbering said Nixon is seeking additional revenue from a tax amnesty program and an internet sales tax measure, and savings from expanding Medicaid. Schaefer said none of the measures have passed the legislature before and was not sure if they would pass during the current session.