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Legislature Approves Taxes, Kills Stadiums

May 17, 2002
By: Robert Sandler
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - In a day that finished with few surprises, the Missouri General Assembly completed the 2002 session by agreeing to raise $672 million in new revenue.

The legislature plugged holes in next year's state budget by passing the $111.6 million "revenue enhancement" plan that proponents say closes tax loopholes on businesses.

But state employee layoffs and additional cuts to higher education that Gov. Bob Holden made last week still stand. The governor said he had to make those cuts because of revenue shortfalls for the ongoing 2002 fiscal year.

Lawmakers also agreed to sell bonds against part of the state's share in the 1998 tobacco settlement. The state stands to gain $50 million in the next fiscal year from the deal.

Raising the revenue from those two plans will add enough money into state coffers next year so that the spending measures passed last week by the legislature have a funding source. Holden had threatened that if lawmakers failed to create enough revenue, he would veto the budget bills and force them to redraft the budget in a special session.

The legislature also agreed Friday to send a transportation tax proposal to the voters this fall. The plan would raise the general sales tax by a half-cent and the fuel tax by 4 cents, creating $511 million in its first year.

Almost 80 percent of that money would go to the state road fund, with most of the rest going to multimodal systems and a little to subsidies for ethanol and biodiesel users.

The $644 million stadium and economic development plan never came to a vote in the House. On Thursday, a committee chairman refused to report the bill out. After it was reported out Friday, supporters in the House still said they were trying to latch the stadium plan onto another bill that was higher on the calendar.

The stadium plan as passed by the Senate included money for stadiums in St. Louis and Kansas City and convention centers in Springfield and Branson, in addition to capping the state's historic tax credit program.

Now, however, the bill is dead.

The legislature will return for a September session in which they can vote to override any bill the governor vetoes.