Economic Justice

SNAP Update; Action Needed!

August 9, 2019

The farm bill is generally known as the biggest safety net for millions of farmers across the country. But it also includes the Supplemental Nutrition Program — known as SNAP or food stamps. Last year, 40 million people used the program, totaling about $70 billion in spending.

The proposed farm bill from the House of Representatives would place strict work requirements for people who receive those benefits. The Senate, bi-partisan bill, leaves SNAP in place for now.

The issue is now moving to conference committee. Our goal is clear – we need to prevent the harmful House SNAP provisions from being included in the final farm bill, with the Senate farm bill as our example to follow.

Now is a critical time to reach out to Missouri’s Congressional Delegates and ask that they support the Senate Farm Bill’s SNAP provisions, which were supported by both Senator Blunt and McCaskill.

 Missouri’s Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) is a member of the conference committee. It is critical to reach out to Congresswoman Hartzler and Senators Blunt and McCaskill this month and ask that they protect SNAP in the conference committee negotiations.

Contact information:

Congresswoman Hartzler: (202) 225-2876

Senator Blunt: (202) 224-5721

Senator McCaskill: (202) 224-6154

Our message:

Unlike the partisan House bill, the final Senate farm bill builds on Missourians shared responsibility and bipartisan commitment to keep our neighbors and community members from going hungry.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is our nation’s most effective tool to combat hunger, helping over 750,000 Missourians in over 350,000 households stretch their budgets to afford a basic diet.

SNAP not only reduces hunger, but also promotes school success, improves health outcomes for children, and supports work for the many Missourians working in low wages jobs with irregular schedules and limited benefits.

A strong bi-partisan Farm Bill helps to protect Missouri’s budget by maximizing use of federal funds for the health of Missourians, while generating $1.70 in economic activity for every $1 in SNAP benefits spent in our local communities.

Right To Work Proposition Fails!

August 8, 2018

“Tuesday’s election marks the first time voters in the United States have overturned a right-to-work law through a ballot referendum…..Economists have been closely studying the economic impact {of right to work states), and none have found any evidence to back up the claim that right-to-work laws boost the economy. At best, the laws slightly increase the number of businesses in the state, but they don’t really benefit workers. At worst, these laws lower average wages for all workers after they are passed. The latter is the most likely outcome, based on the research.”

Read more here

Read about our position here

 

Summary of Missouri Tax Bills

May 19, 2018

From the Missouri Budget Project:

A quick recap of House Bill 2540 – Individual Income Tax:

The bill began as an omnibus tax bill that included provisions related to individual and corporate income tax, sales taxes, funds for roads and expansion of provider taxes for Medicaid. In its original form, it would have reduced state general revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Together we heightened the support of lawmakers to protect revenue, and as a result, the scaled-down version of the bill passed that will increase state revenue by an estimated $59 million per year! In addition, the bill included a provision to clarify Missouri’s personal exemption statute and how it interacts with the new federal tax bill. This clarification will save Missouri $440 million per year in state general revenue that might have been lost otherwise.

A recap of Senate Bills 884, 674 & 617:

You may remember that Senate Bill 617 would have eliminated the individual income tax over time, beginning with a cut in the top rate from the current 5.9% to 4.8% in 2019, followed by incremental decreases each year thereafter – a cut of $6 billion in general revenue per year when fully implemented. Even a modified version of the bill was unpalatable, and it died in the Senate Fiscal Oversight committee.

While House Bill 2540 was the vehicle for individual income tax changes, Senate Bill 674 became the vehicle for corporate income tax changes.

On April 30th, the bill was presented to the House Ways and Means Committee as a bill to cut the corporate tax rate from 6.25% to 3.5% – a cut of 44%. The bill proposed to use revenue gained from changing the corporate apportionment structure to pay for a portion of the rate cut. At the time, MBP testified before the committee and shared concerns with lawmakers that the fiscal note was incorrect. Simply, the amount of revenue projected to be generated by the apportionment shift was not adjusted to factor in a lower rate of tax. As a result, the official fiscal note overstated the revenue generating components of the bill.

Concerns over the fiscal note came to a head this week, resulting in lawmakers reducing the amount of the rate cut. The provisions to reduce the corporate tax rate from 6.25% to 4%, and change the apportionment method to pay for the cut, were added to Senate Bill 884 and passed. The changes will cut the impact on general revenue in half – protecting about $38 million in state revenue compared to what had been considered. The cut in the corporate tax rate is delayed until 2020.

What About the Earned Income Tax Credit & Streamlined

Most disconcerting, the Working Families Credit – EITC did not cross the finish line. This is particularly disappointing given the large corporate tax cuts. Though the proposal was approved by a significant margin in the House (multiple times), and was included in earlier versions of the approved tax bills, it was removed in the final days.

Also of Note –Gas Tax Increase Sent to Voters

House Bill 1460 places an increase in the gas tax on the ballot. The proposal would increase the state gas tax from the current rate of 17 cents per gallon to 27 cents per gallon. The increased rate would be incrementally implemented beginning in 2019 and will be fully implemented by 2026, resulting in $293 million in new state funding for roads, and an increase of $128 million in local funding for transportation.

More than anything, this tax increase demonstrates that lawmakers are willing to ask voters to raise taxes to pay for critical needs. Transportation advocates worked on this proposal for nearly a decade.

When Children Grow Up Poor, the Nation Pays a Price

April 16, 2018

Washington University Professor Mark Rank (who spoke at our program on Shrinking Middle Class) says in a New York Times commentary that “investing in programs that reduce childhood poverty is both smart and efficient economic policy.”   Read the op-ed here

Consumer Financial Protecting Bureau Drops Suit Against Payday Lender 

Feb. 12, 2018

The CFPB “dropped a lawsuit against an alleged online loan shark called Golden Valley Lending. The suit says the lender illegally charges people up to 950 percent interest rates. It took CFPB staffers years to build the case….had the lawsuit been pursued and the CFPB won, it could have clawed back money to help thousands of people who’ve allegedly been hurt by the lender.”     Read more here