Holding The Line On Tax Increases

Posted by on February 28, 2012 1:45 pm
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Categories: Guest Column Representative Gary Cross MO 48th

Picture of State Representative Gary Cross - MO48By Representative Gary Cross – MO 48th

During tough economic times, the last thing Missourians need is a tax increase. And holding the line on taxes has always been a personal priority. I am committed to shunning any proposal either side of the aisle may have to raise your taxes. However, this didn’t keep them from trying.

Every two years, the governor’s State Tax Commission is required to review the value for each grade of agricultural and horticultural land based on its productivity. Late last year, the commission released its report recommending a tax increase on the top four grades of agricultural land. The land affected accounts for 35 percent of the total farmland in the state and is some of the most fertile, productive farmland in the country.

The good news is that we have the ability to disapprove of the tax increase by passing a resolution in both chambers of the General Assembly. This week, we kept our promise to fight against any tax increase by passing HCR 8, a measure disapproving of the Nixon administration’s recommendations.

Land is a fundamental asset of every farming operation in the state. Without the very fertile soil found beneath us, we wouldn’t have many of the foods we enjoy on a daily basis. If something happens to this rich, agricultural asset, it doesn’t only limit the production of food, but the farmer’s bottom line as well. Here in the House, it is our goal to keep our farmers as profitable as possible.

Unfortunately, this proposed tax increase on agricultural land couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. Last year was a particularly devastating year for farmland across Missouri. Flooding in April and June left a lot of our farmland in disarray.

When the Army Corps of Engineers breached the levee at Bird’s Point near East Prairie, over 130,000 acres of prime farmland was covered with water from the Mississippi River. This area that normally produces two bountiful crops each year was reduced to a single substandard harvest. According to estimates, the region lost $60.6 million as a result of the breach. After all this area has been through, I am mystified that the governor’s commission wants to raise taxes on this group of farmers.

If the flooding in southeast Missouri wasn’t bad enough, the Missouri River also flooded in northwest Missouri when water released from reservoirs in the Dakotas reached the state. The flood’s destructive force killed numerous acres of our corn and soybean crop. Given these circumstances, raising taxes on these farmers doesn’t make any sense.

Farming is the backbone of our rural culture and economy. This business sector accounts for roughly a third of all economic activity in the state. Protecting our farmers from higher taxes will help farmers get through these difficult times. Disapproving of the governor’s tax increase on their land was the right thing to do.

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Please contact me with any suggestions that you may have for Missouri legislation.  Also, if you should experience problems in contacting or resolving an issue with a Missouri state agency, please feel free to call my Capitol office at (573) 751- 1459 or email at gary.cross@house.mo.gov.

Thank you for the honor to serve as your Representative in the Missouri House of Representatives.