Missouri panel votes against low-income housing tax credits
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and other members of a state commission on Friday voted against giving out $140 million in state low-income housing tax credits to subsidize places to live in poor areas of the state, a move lauded by the Republican governor as a way to save money.
Members of the Missouri Housing Development Commission voted 6-2 against matching $140 million in federal low-income housing credits for this fiscal year, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported . Another vote is needed and is expected at the commission’s next meeting, which now is scheduled for Dec. 19 in Jefferson City.
Greitens in a Friday statement said despite good intentions, the program has not worked out.
“We’re sick of politicians wasting your tax money,” Greitens said. “Today, we put an end to politics as usual, to save the people of Missouri hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The tax credits have long been criticized as being inefficient. Previous state audits have found only about 50 cents of every dollar invested in the state tax credits goes toward low-income housing projects, while the rest goes to the federal government, investors and tax credit syndicators.
But supporters say cutting them could hurt the availability of low-income housing, and the vote was met with bipartisan criticism.
Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Parson said doing do could have a “dramatic effect” on housing for the poor. He had urged colleagues on the commission to wait for lawmakers to return to the Capitol next year before weighing in.
“To make any drastic changes like this, for sure it will be challenged in the legal system,” Parson said. Such a dramatic decision “should be done by the legislative body and governor.”
His concerns were echoed by state Senate Democratic Minority Leader Gina Walsh and industry leaders.
“We’re really disappointed, and this just seems to be a political move,” Columbia Housing Authority CEO Phil Steinhaus said.
Friday’s vote came after Greitens placed two new appointees on the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which is responsible for approving and doling out the tax credits. New appointee Alan Simpson, of law firm Graves Garrett, was sworn in Friday before the meeting, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Greitens’ other appointee, former Republican state senator and longtime tax credit opponent Jason Crowell, led efforts to ax the low-housing credits for the current fiscal year.
Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com