Representative Neely's Capitol Report
Greetings Friends of the 8th!
Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday
As the summer comes to a close, families now turn their attention to the annual tradition of getting their kids ready to go back to school. For parents, this means buying new school supplies, electronic devices, and clothes to get their children ready for the classroom. To help with this process, Missouri has a three-day back-to-school tax holiday that exempts everything from school supplies to computers from sales tax.
Approved by the legislature in 2003, the three-day period allows parents to buy school-related items such as clothing, school supplies and computers without having to pay the state sales tax of 4.225 percent. In some cases, local municipalities have also chosen to honor the holiday, which means parents in these areas will be able to forego local sales tax as well. For a complete list of the cities and counties that have chosen not to participate, please use the following link:http://dor.mo.gov/business/sales/taxholiday/school/
This is a great way for Missourians to stretch their dollars by making the cost of going back to school a little more affordable. Parents are encouraged to take advantage of the holiday that begins Friday, Aug. 4 at 12:01 a.m. and runs through Sunday, Aug. 6. It’s important to note that the school supply tax exemption has a limit of $50 per purchase, while the clothing exemption has a $100 limit and the personal computer tax exemption has a limit of $1,500. For more information, please visit:http://dor.mo.gov/business/sales/taxholiday/school/consumers.php
Changes in State Budget Places Emphasis on Saturation Patrols
The state budget that went into effect July 1 could lead to fewer impaired driving checkpoints but more periods of increased law enforcement presence on Missouri roads.
Under language put into the budget by the House, no money controlled by the budget can be used on checkpoints. Specifically, $20-million available for grants that law enforcement agencies have used to fund various efforts now cannot be used for checkpoints.
Supporters said data from the Department of Transportation show that periods of having more officers on the roads, often called “saturation efforts,” get more results for the money invested.
MODOT reported that in the year that ended July 1, 2016, saturation efforts resulted in 3,055 arrests at a cost of $704 per arrest, compared to 1,201 arrests at checkpoints at a cost of $1,047 per arrest. Over the three years through July 1, 2016, saturation periods yielded 9,288 arrests at $704 apiece compared to 4,152 arrests at checkpoints costing $919 each.
A comparison by House staff of states in which checkpoints are legal with states in which they are not found that the latter had a slightly lower number of drunken driving fatalities per capita.
The House Budget Committee Chairman said the new language was about making the most effective use of Missouri budget dollars and taking the most effective action toward making roads safer.
Supporters say the change is a better use of tax dollars as it gets more drunk drivers off the road at a lower cost. They say it is more effective for law enforcement officials to actively seek out impaired drivers rather than have numerous officers wait at a checkpoint hoping to catch someone driving under the influence.
Opponents say it’s misleading to say saturation patrols yield more arrests. They say saturation efforts and checkpoints work together. When a checkpoint is announced the saturation patrols can then catch those on the perimeters who try to avoid the checkpoint.
From now through June 30, 2018, Missouri law enforcement agencies can still conduct checkpoints, but would have to pay for them through means other than grants authorized under the state budget.
Governor Reverses Unintended Cuts to Foster Care
Governor Greitens recently announced that he is undoing a 1.5 percent cut to funding for foster care families. The cuts were unintentionally made as part of an overall reduction in Medicaid spending.
If the cuts had gone into effect, foster families could have lost between one and six dollars per week in assistance. Because Missouri already has a very low rate of foster reimbursements at just about one-third of what it costs to take in a child, these additional cuts would have been very difficult on foster families.
In undoing the cuts, Greitens wrote a letter to foster families letting them know it was “never our intention” to cut aid to families who care for foster children. He said, "Missouri should not take money from them and their families, not even in these tough budget times.”
The total amount of funds in question amount to $629,244. Of that, $371,254 is state money, and the rest is federal matching money. The reduction will end within the next month as the administration moves money out of other foster programs that have seen savings in recent months. Foster parents are unlikely to see any change in their reimbursements.
As always, please do not hesitate to call or write me anytime with your questions or thoughts on this or any other issue. My Capitol office is 573.751.0246 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you for the honor to serve as your Representative in the Missouri House of Representatives.
Working on your behalf,
Representative Jim Neely
Proudly Serving the 8th House District
Clinton, Caldwell, Clay and Ray Counties
Missouri House of Representatives