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Tax breaks grow to $285 million

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO. – The bill that originally exempted elderly Missourians from paying state income taxes on their Social Security benefits has grown to include interest on retirement plans, disability, and other exemptions.

It was passed by the Missouri House Thursday, and the potential cost to the state has risen from 100 million to over 285 million dollars a year.

Amy Blouin, Executive Director of the Missouri Budget Project, says the bill in its revised form cuts too deep:

"The health care cuts, education, mental health care, Missouri is slipping farther behind, and instead if we utilize that revenue to invest in the services that we offer we could benefit all people in the state," Blouin said.

Ironically, House Speaker Rod Jetton, the bill's sponsor, doesn't think the state can afford a tax break that large either, and hopes the Senate will remove some of the amendments:

"I think everyone understands that we want to try to provide tax relief to our seniors and our teachers, and if we can afford to do a few more we'll try," Jetton said.

The bill is now on its way to the state Senate, where Jetton believes some of the House amendments will be removed.