JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri lawmakers passed a series of tax credits for the farming community on Tuesday, but withdrew the bill from a provision that could have benefited a major real estate developer.
The package, which has been a priority for agricultural lobbyists, had been stalled in the Legislature by a portion of the global bill that would have given investors like Columbia developer Jeffrey E. Smith $ 25 million in tax credits. to invest in rural enterprises in the state.
Opponents wanted rural tax credits out of measure after a similar program in Georgia cost taxpayers more than $ 50 million.
The renewed legislation now includes provisions for tax breaks for wood energy, investments in meat processing, improvements for the ethanol and biodiesel industry, and a loan program for family farms.
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The latest version also reduces the duration of tax credits from six to two years, so the issue will return to the Legislature in 2024.
“There are a lot of good things in this bill,” said Rep. Brad Pollitt, R-Sedalia, who sponsored the legislation.
“It’s not a perfect bill. Is that what we wanted in the House? It’s not what we wanted in the House,” said Rep. Don Rone, R-Caruthersville, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee.
But he said the final version will be animated by farming groups such as the Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.
“We still have to support the bill even though it’s not perfect,” said Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette.
Pollitt said earlier that the costs added to the general bill for the rural work tax credit program raised eyebrows among lawmakers.
In Georgia, a state audit found that the rural investment program would take at least 72 years to get a return on investment, leading to allegations that it is an expensive boondoggle covering the pockets of developers.
Among the companies participating in the Georgia program are JES Holdings, led by Smith, which is a major player in the state’s low-income housing tax credit program. His firm also has offices in Georgia.
Former Gov. Eric Greitens has suggested that the state’s low-income housing industry, which includes banks, investors and credit unions benefiting from the loans, conspired against him in retaliation for his decision. of 2017 to eliminate state tax credits, valued collectively at hundreds of millions. of dollars.
Participation in the program, if approved, would have been limited to a small number of companies. For example, investors should have invested at least $ 100 million in small communities across the country, including $ 30 million in Missouri.
The measure now goes to Governor Mike Parson’s desk.
The legislation is the law of the House 1720.
Updated at 3:23 PM on Tuesday, May 10th.