The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 1, 2013

Our View: New tax credits suspicious

The Joplin Globe

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — To the extent that they work, we’re all for tax credits, but recent history in Missouri indicates there’s good reason to treat them with suspicion. Many of the dozens of tax credits the state already offers have simply not lived up to the promises that paved the way for their passage.

On Friday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed the first bill to arrive on his desk this legislative session, authorizing $3 million in tax credits for organizations and local governments to bring in big-time amateur sporting events. Republicans in the General Assembly overwhelming favored this bill, too.

Like we said, to the extent they work, we’re in favor of them, but we haven’t been this fearful of anything involving amateur sports since the Missouri Tigers football team decided to go helmet-to-helmet with the teams in the Southeastern Conference.

State Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, was one of the few Republicans in the House to cast a shadow on the bill,  noting that there were no “carve-outs” for smaller, rural areas.

He called it a “Kansas City and St. Louis tax credit,” meaning they will gobble up the incentives faster than Bill Snyder resurrected the K-State Wildcats football team.

“If we were to ever get any part of that I would be shocked,” White said recently. Even Springfield, he said, wouldn’t stand a chance.

Already, the new incentives will be added to a bid by the St. Louis Sports Commission to lure the Olympic swimming trials in 2016 and the SEC men’s basketball tournament in 2017 or 2018.

Other lawmakers who opposed the bill were right to note that many big-time amateur sporting events already are coming to Kansas City and St. Louis, including major college basketball tournaments, without the use of incentives.

But it’s a done deal now.

We just ask that legislators take a hard look at these incentives again in a couple of years to see if they are doing what is expected. That is, to bring in in new and additional amateur events — not just subsidizing existing events — and that every city in Missouri is sharing in the incentive.