Green Room

The Post-Dispatch’s $4 Billion Tax Hike

posted at 10:36 am on April 4, 2012 by

Missouri’s major dailies have had quite a run over the past few days. Last week, the Kansas City Star told readers that the state’s governor needed “to promote reasonable revenue-enhancing measures” — taxes — and put more money toward state programs. The notion of “government investment” features prominently in the piece, as increasingly has become the case when “revenue-enhancing measures” are suggested, post-Stimulus. What the editorial board doesn’t say is that the city’s own local taxes are already among the highest in the region.

Stratospheric municipal taxes overlayed with an even higher state tax burden? This won’t turn out well.

But yesterday the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Star‘s cross-state peer, spectacularly one-upped the KC paper. Missouri lawmakers are constrained by law in how much they can tax and spend each year and are billions below the statutory limit. How much of that difference would the Post-Dispatch like to spend?

All $4 billion of it.

A lot of folks purchased Mega Millions lottery tickets last week dreaming about what they could do with $640 million. Imagine what $4 billion would do for Missouri.

Let’s be clear: That’s a radical tax hike proposal, tucked into what is otherwise an uninspired editorial about state and local governing responsibilities. Combined state and local tax rates have stayed roughly the same for decades in Missouri, but the Post-Dispatch would have those rates hurdle skyward to provide more public services and somehow, some way, improve the economy above the status quo.

Even the suggestion that raising taxes and spending would help the state makes no sense by the newspaper’s own standards. State and local tax rates have actually increased slightly since 1980, the apparent “good ol’ days” implied by the editorial, from 8.6% then to 9% today. The newspaper can’t even claim that plummeting tax burdens are why Missouri is suffering economically, since by its own metric, taxes have actually increased over the last 30 years.

The proposal is mostly academic here in Missouri, as taxpayers and policy makers in the state would blanche at the thought of such a hike, but that doesn’t mean the suggestion isn’t troubling. If implemented, the plan would have awful real-world implications — giving families less to spend and taking capital out of the market for use in less productive government programs. It’s a roadmap to ruin, and yet the Post-Dispatch apparently doesn’t see it.

“Imagine what $4 billion would do for Missouri”? No, imagine if legislators took their cues from Missouri’s newspapers. What a nightmare that would be.

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Who has to imagine anything after the feds continue to borrow trillions, and we already have had ineffective “stimuli” to the tune of billions go absolutely nowhere in improving the state of the overall economy.

Insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Newspaper editors are just that, and they are not economic experts in any way, shape, or form.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on April 4, 2012 at 11:02 AM

THe Post Disgrace might as well be the Daily Worker. That paper, like all of Lee’s holdings, do nothing but carry water for leftists.

There are some great commenters at stltoday that keep up the good fight, but teh stoopid among the paper’s leftists is…astounding.

tom daschle concerned on April 4, 2012 at 5:01 PM

The paper has gotten worse since the Pulitzer people sold it. I know that’s hard to believe but it’s true.I stopped my subscription 9 years ago but I do go online to read the Sports section.

My Mother gets a subscription and is constantly asking me to read and explain the editorials. Not because she doesn’t understand them but because she wants to know what others are saying.

Vince on April 4, 2012 at 10:18 PM

“Imagine what $4 billion would do for Missouri”? No, imagine if legislators took their cues from Missouri’s newspapers. What a nightmare that would be.

We don’t have to rely on the legislators to take a cue from the PD. The Department of Education in MO (DESE), the State Board of Education and Governor Nixon started the ball rolling when they signed onto the Common Core standards, estimated by the Pioneer Institute to cost MO at least $350 Million. No legislative input asked for or needed. Just how we are supposed to pay for unproven, untested and unfunded mandates is another question DESE, Nixon, and the State Board won’t answer.

Think that’s bad? Well, this same group signed onto another type of Race to the Top for preschool. Cost to the state? $1.6 Billion. And again, no legislative input requested or needed.

Would love for the Show-Me Institute to do a study on the run around of the legislature by state agencies, politicians and appointed officials. If this is the manner in which the state operates, we should just do away with the MO Legislature. Apparently it is common practice in MO for governmental agencies to sign taxpayers onto programs they can’t pay for. If the legislature can’t/won’t take action,it is becoming increasingly unimportant and impotent.

manateespirit on April 5, 2012 at 10:40 AM