Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt has made a career of denouncing any hint of the need for government revenue as an attempt to impose a "job-killing tax increase."
Therefore, it probably shouldn't be surprising that Blunt's budget office had trouble finding words to describe his proposal to raise sales taxes by $30 million on telecom companies, certain financial services and any company that rents things, from bowling shoes to canoes.
Budget Director Larry Schepker said the proposal would merely clarify the law. The legislature always intended the companies to pay the tax, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the law gave the companies a pass, he said. Therefore, it is not a tax increase -- although the affected companies would pay more tax, he acknowledged.
To catch the contortions that Schepker and the budget staff put themselves through to avoid calling the proposal a tax increase, listen this account of the budget briefing put together by Bob Priddy of the Missourinet radio network.
Some Republicans who blasted former Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, when he proposed closing several tax loopholes and raising some taxes insisted that this time was different. The main difference is that it was proposed by a Republican governor. But a handful of Republicans, including Rep. Shannon Cooper of Clinton, conceded that it was a tax increase.
"If someone's paying $30 million more, it's a tax increase," Cooper said. "I'd be a hypocrite if I called Holden's a tax increase and tried to say this wasn't."
Posted by Kit Wagar