We were surprised last week to hear Gov. Jay Nixon, backed by leaders in education, calling to rein in tax credits.

It’s a turnabout from the Nixon who a year ago pledged more tax incentives and credits to help stimulate Missouri’s economy and attract new businesses and jobs to our state.

It’s a bad time to be flip-flopping on tax credits. It sends out the message that industries should look to other states if they want to set up shop.

After all, we’re surrounded by states still willing to offer attractive incentives to businesses that will add good jobs.

We realize the giveaway of tax money as business incentives can be damaging not just to education budgets but to all our budgets if we aren’t getting the kind of returns expected. Somehow we have to find that right balance. But it can’t be with an all-or-nothing-approach.

To free up money in future public education budgets, Nixon’s administration proposed to cap Missouri’s annual authorization of tax credits, thus pulling back on the issuance.

We understand tough times, but if we lose more businesses and more jobs, everyone loses and the budget cuts currently being made won’t even matter in the long run. Tax incentives and credits have been used extensively in the Joplin area. Much of the Joplin downtown redevelopment has been made possible through tax credits.

The governor’s message puts a pall on the efforts of developers looking to get financing right now.

A better approach would be to look at tax incentives that truly are beneficial to our economy and match our dollars to work in sync with successful programs.

Legislators need to be willing to study tax credit changes for the future. At the same time, the governor shouldn’t pull the rug out from under Missouri businesses.

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