As the Missosuri General Assembly convenes for its 2014 session, it is imperative that they include reforming Missouri’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) laws at the top of the priority list. TIF is abused around the state. TIF subsidizes the movement of retail stores from city to city in places that would never qualify as “blighted” except in the language of economic development bureaucrats.
Missouri needs two key changes to its TIF laws. First, the prohibition against using TIF in the floodplain should be expanded from only protecting St. Charles County to protecting the floodplain in every county. There is nothing more insane than using TIF to subsidize development in floodplains that will inevitably be bailed out in the future when the floods return. Sportsmen, environmentalists, farmers, and basically everyone should be able to agree with us here at the Show-Me Institute on this change.
Second, Missouri needs to institute county TIF commissions instead of city TIF commissions. At least county officials have to look at the bigger picture, instead of only caring about one small city. If county commissions made the TIF decisions — with no ability for cities to override the commission — we would have less abuse of TIF in our state.
These two simple changes would have great benefits for Missouri’s overall economy and would put a dent in the constant use of subsidies we are now experiencing.
David Stokes, policy analyst, Show-Me Institute