March 4, 2024

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House leaders float plan to send $500 checks to Missouri taxpayers | Politics

JEFFERSON CITY — A second plan to send $500 checks to Missouri taxpayers emerged Monday, this time from the House as a way to spend down some of the federal stimulus money that has flowed into the state.

In an announcement from House Republican leaders, the House will consider legislation that would return about $1 billion to people who paid personal income tax in 2021. Individual taxpayers would receive $500 checks; couples who filed jointly, $1,000.

“As families struggle to make ends meet with the rising cost of inflation, it’s important that we do everything we can to help them keep more of their hard-earned dollars. The state is fortunate to have a record surplus that we can use a portion of to provide direct economic relief to working Missourians,” said Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, who chairs the House Budget Committee.

The move follows a proposal pending in the Senate by Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, who also wants to give Missourians an election-year check from the government.

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Hough’s plan is estimated to cost $2.4 billion.

The prospect of sending money back to taxpayers has gained momentum amid ongoing negotiations over the state budget.

The House approved its version of the spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 last week.

Democrats complained that the blueprint left more than $1.8 billion unspent due to heavy amounts of federal emergency pandemic aid, as well as a robust cash flow from the collection of state taxes.

Gov. Mike Parson Monday was asked about Hough’s version, but said he hadn’t reviewed it.

“I haven’t seen that bill yet. I don’t know much about it,” Parson said. “We’ve got a pretty good budget we put out there and we hope that budget gets done pretty close to what we put out there.”

House Speaker Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, and Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, R-O’Fallon, announced their “strong support” for Smith’s plan as it was filed.

In a joint statement, Vescovo, Plocher, and Wiemann said, “As a caucus we have made it clear that we do not support the idea of spending every available dollar to increase the size of government, but instead believe individual Missourians are the best decision-makers for how to spend their tax dollars.”

Vescovo noted that he and Smith have worked together over the past few months to find the best solution for providing substantive relief to working Missourians. He added that House Bill 3021 will be a legislative priority for the House in the final weeks of session.

The legislation is Senate Bill 1138 and House Bill 3021.