Greitens succeeds in push to halt low-income housing tax credits

Dec 19, 2017
Originally published on December 20, 2017 5:26 am

Missouri will not issue $140 million dollars in state low income housing tax credits next year.

The Missouri Housing Development Commission voted 8 to 2 Tuesday to zero out the state’s low-income housing tax credit for the year. It also voted to apply for the federal version of the incentive.

The commission’s 6 to 2 initial vote last month was followed by a period of public comment. But in the end it didn’t matter, as none of the commissioners who voted last month to cut off low income housing incentives changed their minds. The two extra “yes” votes came courtesy of new commission members Craig Porter and John Scariot, who were sworn in before today’s meeting.

Gov. Eric Greitens phoned into the meeting and voted in favor of zeroing out the tax credits. He said in a written statement that special interests abused low income housing tax breaks to make themselves rich.

“There are a lot of ‘developers’ and ‘syndicators’ who profit from taxpayer dollars, and they pay politicians big bucks to keep the program in place,” he said. “We need a quality program to actually get results for people – not a special interest scheme that makes insiders rich.

The commission’s vice chair, former state Sen. Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau, speared the commission’s move. He’s been critical for years of the low-income housing tax credit, but failed in his efforts to scale back the program while he was in the Missouri Senate. 

“Forty-two cents of every dollar actually goes to housing,” he told reporters after the vote. “As I’ve said over and over again, only politicians spending other people’s money think it’s a good deal to spend a dollar for only 42 cents worth of bread.”

Lt. Governor Mike Parson led the opposition to the commission’s move. He said it would make it harder to provide housing not only to low-income urban residents, but to rural Missourians and military veterans as well.

“People out there that’s affected by this, at the end of the day, we’re not giving them much of a solution for the problem,” he said. “We made a decision today on no factual basis, whatsoever…more politics than factual.”

Parson floated an alternate plan to study how eliminating the tax break would affect the state, but it was voted down.

Jackie Reichert lives in a low-income housing complex in Columbia. She attended the meeting and said she was disgusted with the results.

“It’s just sad, because we don’t know what’s going to happen, and the people who aren’t into (low income) housing yet, that are waiting to get into housing, may not ever get to be – they may be homeless.”

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

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