- In Support of Workers’ Free Speech Rights — April 03, 2013
- Corporate and Pass-Through Income Taxation: Time for Reform — March 05, 2013
- Three Ways Bad Public Policy Hurts Missouri — February 18, 2013
- Passing Through Missouri: Left Behind on Taxes? — February 08, 2013
- Corporate and Pass-Through Income Taxation: Time for Reform — February 07, 2013
- Quality Jobs Program: A Closer Look — February 07, 2013
- Assessing a Very Costly Medicaid Expansion — January 29, 2013
- Public Money, Private Money — December 21, 2012
- Cutting The Ties That Bind: End Missouri’s Corporate Income Tax — November 29, 2012
- Court Plan Reforms Are Good For Missouri — October 31, 2012
- Kansas Rolls Out the Red Carpet to Missouri Companies — October 22, 2012
- KTRS Appearance: Economic Tsunami Headed for Missouri? — October 09, 2012
- Where Do We Go From Here? – Healthcare Expert Panel Discussion — July 20, 2012
- A Mixed Bag? — May 29, 2012
- Patrick Ishmael on Jaco Report – Voter ID — May 15, 2012
- Tax Credits: Gambling with Taxpayer Money — May 01, 2012
- The Main Street Trolley: A Slow Motion Train Wreck — March 26, 2012
- Kudos to Missouri Senate for Blocking Health Exchange — March 19, 2012
- A Clear Vision of the Eye Exam Mandate — March 07, 2012
- Missouri’s Tax Credit Crisis — February 21, 2012
- The End of Aerotropolis? — October 25, 2011
- Kansas City Trolleys: An Expensive Comeback — October 19, 2011
- A Streetcar Too Far: Vanity Rail Lines Are a Waste of Kansas City Tax Dollars — October 03, 2011
- A Starry-Eyed Proposal To Rescue an Airport and Revitalize a Region — September 02, 2011
- Lambert Director Misrepresents Missouri’s ‘Aerotropolis’ Bill — August 29, 2011
- What’s Wrong with Aerotropolis: Paid Not to Fly? — August 12, 2011
- What’s Wrong with Aerotropolis: Grounded Beef — August 05, 2011
- ‘Aerotropolis’: A Raw Deal for Missouri — July 11, 2011
- ‘Aerotropolis’: A Raw Deal for Missouri — July 11, 2011
- Lambert Director Misrepresents Missouri’s ‘Aerotropolis’ Bill — June 29, 2011
- The Next Big Government Handout: ‘Aerotropolis’ — June 23, 2011
- A ‘Hotel California’ for Bartle Hall — May 20, 2011
Last week, the Missouri House Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability voted 7-2 to pass House Bill 700, a proposal that would expand Medicaid eligibility, but short of the levels that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) proscribes. The media has variously described the proposal as an “expansion” and an “alternative,” and Democrats and Republicans alike — depending on what they want to see in the measure — can and have described it as both. In view of that rhetorical ambiguity, it is unsurprising then that not only was committee support for the bill bipartisan, so, too, was its opposition.
Rep. Kevin McManus, a Kansas City Democrat, pointed out that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has repeatedly said states couldn’t get full federal funding unless they fully complied with the national law. That’s why he was one of two lawmakers to vote against the bill in committee.
Joining him in opposition was Rep. Mark Parkinson, a St. Charles Republican who said he could not support the bill because of an ideological opposition to the federal health care law. Three times, he said, voters in his district have rejected Obamacare. The first was a ballot measure in 2010 on the individual mandate. The second was last fall’s ballot measure on health insurance exchanges. The third was a vote against President Barack Obama’s re-election.
The committee had previously voted down an attempt to amend HB 700 to actually implement a full Medicaid expansion. That was not altogether unexpected, either; the House has been stalwartly opposed to an ACA Medicaid expansion as both standalone bills and amendments. Suffice to say, I share their skepticism and concerns about the program.
As to HB 700 itself, my views about the proposal have been documented; the legislation has some good points, including reforming some aspects of how Medicaid is delivered. But it seems in some respects to bow to a perceived political reality that more has to be spent on the program for reform to be passed. I do not agree with that view. Medicaid reform is a good unto itself that policymakers of all stripes should be able to get behind. Moreover, I worry that in the process of HB 700’s continued legislative sausage-making that we ultimately will find the state passing a law that, inadvertently or purposefully, actually expands and implements the Medicaid program under Obamacare. The governor is still pushing for that, and by keeping the increased spending aspect a live wire, I am still concerned about this possibility. Indeed, if this compromise legislation moves any further in the expansion direction, it will be right and truly compromised.
The perfect need not be the enemy of the good, but I am not yet convinced the pavestones of this legislation are leading us someplace Missouri voters want to be. Stay tuned.
The usual suspects are out in full force with the Parade of Economic Horribles they say would come from Missouri enacting Kansas-style growth policies. However, a survey by Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation published this week throws yet another bucket of cold water on those warnings. The survey asked more than 7,000 small businesses how states are doing in facilitating small business development . . . and the results are not good for Missouri.
Kansas was viewed favorably for its support of small business, improving upon last year’s A- ranking. The state graded well for the ease of starting a business, especially its regulatory systems.
Missouri slipped slightly in 2013 after earning a B- a year ago. That decline can be attributed partly to issues with licensing and permitting requirements.
You can find an interactive map that looks at all the aspects the survey examined — including regulations, health and safety, licensing, and more — here. As with any index, all of the survey’s findings have to be put in the proper context: survey methodologies, assumptions, and objectives do matter, so your mileage may vary on whether you think Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation are balancing their factors credibly. In that context, I think it is still worthwhile to highlight their topline results, visually represented in the screenshot below and available on Thumbtack’s website.
That Midwestern section sure looks like the kind of growth corridor I have discussed in the past, but unfortunately, Missouri sticks out like a sore thumb on the map. The question is, will Missouri be a part of this growth corridor? Will Missouri go the way of Kansas . . . or of Illinois?
This is the statewide version of the tax credit map our readers saw in Part Three of the “Hip” series. You can peruse the underlying data here. Feel free to double-click and zoom on areas in which you are interested. To drag the map with your mouse, hold the shift key first. Hover over dots to see more information.
Last week, Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Political Fix blog wrote briefly about the “hip development” debate we have discussed here and asked this about Saint Louis’ recent downtown redevelopment projects: “Economic engine or not, does anyone really think that area was better, in any sense of the word, 15 years ago than it is now?” Yes, the area around Washington Avenue obviously looks nicer. There are also more people living there. But this is a classic example of seen benefits with unseen costs.
Below is a map of tax credits that the Missouri Department of Economic Development issued in Saint Louis City spanning the years 1999-2011. The legend is denominated in dollars of credit issued. The larger the circle, the larger the credit awarded.
You can find the statewide distribution spreadsheet here. You can also hover over the dots to view some details on individual projects, and you can zoom the map out to see tax credit projects in other parts of the state. (To drag the map with your mouse, hold the shift key first.)
Dump hundreds of millions of dollars anyplace and something sure as heck better happen there. Washington Ave. is a good example of this. State tax credits have blanketed the central corridor of Saint Louis City over the last decade, and indeed, the population has risen in the area. But by how much? In a blog post titled “The Heavy Hand of Demographic Change” for the blog Rooflines, Alan Mallach of the Brookings Institute compared Saint Louis’ downtown growth to that of other cities.
Saint Louis’ downtown population rose from just shy of 4,000 people in 2000 to about 7,000 people in 2010, a net increase of more than 3,000 people and nothing to sneeze at. But outside the downtown area? Saint Louis City’s overall population fell from 347,000 people in 2000 to 319,000 in 2010, a net loss of about 28,000 people. The state dropped hundreds of millions of dollars into the heart of Saint Louis’ downtown through tax credits and moved the population needle some; meanwhile, thousands of residents outside the city’s central corridor were heading for the exits. Some “creatives” have come, but development “coattails” clearly did not.
That is a development paradigm that is simply not working. Empower individual innovation, not government “experts.” Trust city residents, not hip developers. It may be less “cool” to redevelop our cities this way, but it will probably be far more effective.