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Politically Speaking: Sen. Eigel delves into tax-cut bill that passed Senate at lightning speed

Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, poses for a portrait in the St. Louis Public Radio studio.

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Sen. Bill Eigel back to the program.

The Weldon Spring Republican represents a portion of St. Charles County in the Missouri Senate. He was elected in 2016 after a hotly contested GOP primary, and a fairly easy general election victory.

Eigel is one of several Republicans who have put forward bills to overhaul the state’s tax code. It’s also been a priority for Gov. Eric Greitens, who promised during his State of the State speech to push through an ambitious tax-cut plan.

After weeks of committee hearings and behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Missouri Senate gave first-round approval to Eigel’s tax-cut bill last week. What was surprising was the lack of debate, as the voice vote took place after a discussion that lasted only half an hour.

Eigel’s legislation would gradually cut the state’s income and corporate taxes. Among other things, it would also start the process for the state to begin collecting online-sales taxes. Additionally, the bill would raise the state’s gas tax by eight cents over a period of time.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said on Thursday he was concerned about the overall cost of the proposal. Greitens didn’t include a gas tax hike in his tax-cut proposal, a move sought by rural lawmakers to help improve roads and bridges.

Here’s what Eigel had to say during the show:

  • Eigel said he was disappointed by Richard’s comments on his tax-cut legislation. “I don’t think that I’ve ever heard the man who I voted to be pro tem of the Missouri Senate attack one of the priorities of one of his own members,” he said. “I think that’s pretty extraordinary.
  • He said that tax cut bill does have a responsible fiscal note, especially since it pairs tax cuts with getting rid of some tax breaks. “The reason it took so long to get to the floor was we wanted to be very cautious and reasonable and thoughtful about making sure we weren’t having the problems Kansas did,” said Eigel, referring to Kansas’ slew of tax cuts earlier in the decade.
  • In regards to how Greitens’ scandals might affect legislative business, Eigel said the lack of communication between the governor and senators “has sort of insulated us from some of his troubles — but it’s also lessened the role for the governor.”
  • Eigel said he’d like to see Greitens “do a better job building relationships inside the Missouri Senate.” “I think he’s going to find his remaining years in office very difficult if he can’t make simple outreaches to the people that ultimately want to help his agenda,” he said.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter:@jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Bill Eigel on Twitter: @BillEigel

Music: “Flava in Ya Ear” by Craig Mack

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.