Tilley: In budget battle, tax increases off table

Steven Tilley. (PoliticMo Photo)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s 2013 budget hole is wider than anyone previously expected, according to a new analysis.

The Missouri Budget Project announced on Thursday that they estimate Missouri’s 2013 budget shortfall to be nearly $800 million, $300 million more than previously expected.

House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perry, said even with the significant budget shortfall, he would not support any new tax increases.

“The reality is when you go visit the average citizen around the state, they don’t think that government should get any more money. They think government should live within its means,” Tilley said in an interview with PoliticMo last week. “I come from Perry County and St. Francis, and they don’t want to raise taxes, not with nine percent unemployment.”

Though Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, Tilley said he is not for increasing it. He said he would be willing to take a look at applying sales tax to online purchases, but Tilley said he would want to do that in a way that is revenue neutral.

“For me the streamlining sales tax is not about creating revenue, its about creating fairness,” Tilley said.

Instead, Tilley said he would prefer to look at things like prison reform and reducing the recidivism rate, implementing a tax amnesty program, and call on state departments to set priorities for lawmakers to consider when it comes to making budget cuts.

Additionally, Republicans say they are interested in looking at a new way of managing income. In the Tilley’s “Blueprint for Missouri,” the Republican caucus endorsed a proposal that would limit state revenue by tying it to fluctuation of inflation and population changes. Tilley said the amendment is about stability.

“I’ve been around politicians enough to know that when the budgets are good, they will spend every penny, and they will spend some of it to create ongoing problems that will need to be continued to be funded,’ Tilley said. “In the 90’s when our state budget was growing leaps and bounds and we were expanding Medicaid, it forced us in the 2000’s to cut Medicaid. The goal is to try and limit the boom or bust type situations.”

Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to lay out his budget, and how he plans to address the budget gap, on Tuesday during his State of the State address to lawmakers.

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