Rick Francis

With the start of the 2020 Missouri legislative session this week, I'm very excited to be back at the Capital.

As we start the New Year, the Missouri economy is strong and we have a very low unemployment rate. Many employers that I speak to are actually looking for employees.

At this time, the State anticipates a 2.4 percent increase in general revenue during 2020. Which is great as we look to fulfill our constitutional duty to balance our Missouri budget. I'm proud to say that we have been fiscally responsible over the past two years, and have actually managed to leave $100 million in reserves each year. Providing a rainy day fund in case of a catastrophe or revenue shortfalls. Here are some of the things that I think will be priorities for this session.

Wayfair Tax - an issue dealing with internet sales. A Supreme Court decision said that businesses without a physical presence in a state with more than 200 transactions or $100,000 in-state sales, can be made to remit sales taxes on transactions. Internet sales would be collecting sales tax the same as brick and mortar stores in Missouri do. This will be controversial because it can be seen as a tax increase, but Missouri businesses will say it works to level the playing field.

Personal Property Taxes – a tax that people dislike the most. In past legislative sessions there have been bills to do away with personal property taxes, those failed. Because of so many initiative petitions that bypass the legislative process this issue may be on the ballot in the future. Personal Property taxes generate about 1.5 billion in revenue which supports; schools, health services, sheltered workshops, county governments, fire districts, law enforcement, etc. If this tax is no longer collected, how will these services be supported? In a future capital report, I will share what personal property taxes are spent on in Bollinger, Madison and Perry counties.

VLT (Video, Lottery Terminal) Gambling - the regulation of illegal gambling machines that seem to be popping up all over our state could be a major issue this session. These machines are in truck stops, and restaurants, lodges, etc. Should we regulate this practice and collect taxes on them? Another part of this discussion will include allowing online gambling and taxing it. So, do we ban all illegal machines or regulate them and tax them?

I'm expecting a very interesting session. These are only a few of the issues I expect to be debated during this session. I will continue to keep sharing our state issues with you throughout this session.

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