JEFFERSON CITY • A day after trumpeting his new $800 million tax cut plan, Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration released a document showing the tax cut as hundreds of millions of dollars less.
But, administration officials say the analysis compiled by Greitens’ tax agency doesn’t show the full extent of the tax cuts and the money that would be raised to offset the proposal.
Despite multiple requests Monday and Tuesday for a breakdown on how the math works on the Republican governor’s so-called “revenue neutral” tax plan, it wasn’t until more than 20 hours later that the Missouri Department of Revenue released an analysis showing how the plan might work.
It showed a total cut at an estimated $374.6 million, with most of the savings coming from a $210.7 million reduction in the individual income tax by dropping the tax rate for most filers to 5.3 percent, down from the current level of 5.9 percent.
Greitens spokesman Parker Briden said the numbers don’t show other factors involved in the equation and contended the overall cut to taxpayers will be $800 million.
Asked to explain why the document showed only $374.6 million in cuts, Briden said, “That is your spin.”
The financial effects of the package have been in the works for at least three weeks. Greitens had been planning to release the outline two weeks ago, but canceled it as he dealt with his admission that he had an extramarital affair with a woman in 2015.
In comments to reporters, Department of Revenue Director Joel Walters said nearly all of the lost revenue would be restored through a series of other adjustments to the tax code, making it unnecessary to cut spending if the package were approved.
The document supplied Tuesday evening showed the cut was not completely neutral. Instead, by ending some tax breaks to businesses and pushing for the collection of online sales taxes, it would take $25.4 million in added revenue away from other state programs.
On Monday, when asked for specific numbers, Walters said the tax reduction was $800 million, but that he wanted to focus on the broad policy outlines of the tax changes rather than the specific figures that would help taxpayers and lawmakers determine whether the plan is financially solvent.
It is unclear why the department waited a day to release the analysis.
Greitens said the department ran 7,000 different scenarios through the tax system to measure the impact of the plan on Missouri families.
“Based on those scenarios, 97 percent of all Missouri taxpayers would see a tax cut,” a news release noted.
“It is, from my perspective, an extraordinarily well documented, well thought through plan,” Greitens said Monday. “This is a really thoughtful, detailed, deeply researched plan.”
Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, said elements of the governor’s plan could be combined with two existing tax cut proposals being sponsored by himself and Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester.
But, Eigel made it clear that the Senate versions trump Greitens when it comes to priorities.
“The question is how can we fit them all together,” Eigel said.
He said he is “pretty confident” the end result can be tax cuts that don’t hurt overall revenue in the short term.
Meantime, the leader of the Senate continued to raise red flags about the prospects of cutting taxes.
“I’m still nervous about a tax cut when we have an existing tax cut already going on,” Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard said.
In addition to a half-percent reduction in the income tax phased in over five years that started on Jan. 1, Congress also approved a tax overhaul that will reduce revenues flowing into the state by at least $58 million.
“We’ve got an unknown quantity from the feds. I’m a little nervous about the certainty of that. We’ve got proposed cuts to higher education when everybody is hollering about a trained workforce,” Richard said. “I sure don’t want to leave this place in trouble on revenue.”
Richard, R-Joplin, also said he hadn’t received a breakdown on the spending.
“I haven’t gotten anything yet,” Richard said.