Government & Politics

Eric Greitens’ confidence unshaken as he pushes tax plan in Riverside

Greitens stops in KC area to promote his $800 million tax plan

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is on a tour around the state to tout his tax plan. Greitens spoke to supporters and employees of U.S. Farathane in Riverside Tuesday.
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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is on a tour around the state to tout his tax plan. Greitens spoke to supporters and employees of U.S. Farathane in Riverside Tuesday.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens pushed back Tuesday on the notion that his political clout has waned during his first public appearance in the Kansas City area since allegations of blackmail surfaced.

Shortly before Greitens appeared at a Riverside plastics factory to promote his tax cut plan, a pair of speakers blasted Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” a fitting song for a governor who has resisted calls to resign from lawmakers of both parties in recent weeks.

Greitens would not answer questions about the blackmail allegations that have dogged him this month or the reports that federal investigators are looking into him.

“We’ve answered all of those questions and you know that. Do you have any questions on taxes?” Greitens said in response to a question about a possible FBI inquiry.

The Missouri Republican has proposed lowering income taxes for 97 percent of Missourians, but he has resisted comparisons to the tax cuts tried in Kansas.

The neighboring state faced years of budget shortfalls after enacting tax cuts in 2012 before eventually repealing the cuts last year.

“This is a responsible plan. This a Missouri-responsible plan, which is a revenue-neutral plan. We won’t be adding debt to our children and this will be a very different situation,” Greitens said after a campaign-style event promoting the plan at the U.S. Farathane plant in Riverside.

“Here’s what I’m confident of, sir. This is the most well-researched, most thoughtful, boldest state tax reform in the country. It’s extraordinarily responsible because the work has been done of studying what’s actually going to happen to families,” Greitens said, responding to a reporter’s question.

Greitens has repeatedly pointed to the more than 7,000 scenarios the Missouri Department of Revenue ran in crafting the plan as proof that his administration has vetted the plan before rolling it out, but a spokeswoman for the agency could not say Tuesday night whether it would ever be releasing data on all of those scenarios.

The governor’s office touted the plan as an $800 million tax cut Monday, but a fiscal analysis released by the Department of Revenue late Tuesday appears to show that the proposed cut is roughly half of what the governor previously stated.

Under Greitens’ plan, the 5.9 percent individual tax rate that most Missourians pay would drop to 5.3 percent. The tax rate for corporations would also drop from 6.25 percent to 4.25 percent.

Greitens said that a family making $40,000 a year would save $471 a year under this plan.

The push for tax cuts come at the same time that the governor is in a budget fight with lawmakers over a $70 million proposed cut to higher education funding. Greitens said that numerous lawmakers have expressed their support for his tax plan.

Rep. Kevin Corlew, a Kansas City Republican whose district includes Riverside, acknowledged the tension between the push for tax cuts and other needs during a conversation in Jefferson City a few hours before Greitens would tout him as an ally in his Riverside speech.

“Lowering taxes is a good thing for Missouri residents and businesses. I haven’t had the chance to really look at the details of what the governor is proposing,” Corlew said. “But I still hear from a lot of businesses that we need to address transportation infrastructure and workforce development, and I want to make sure those issues are in the conversation as well, so that we truly make an environment where more people can go to work.”

Greitens’ Kansas City area speech took place the same day that Harley Davidson announced it would close its Kansas City plant, costing the state 800 jobs.

“Those jobs were lost because of Harley Davidson’s declining sales,” Greitens told reporters. “We are taking responsibility for what we are doing here in the state of Missouri. Sometimes you’ll have companies that have declining sales and lay people off… What’s so important for us to do is attract new jobs.”

The Star’s Jason Hancock contributed to this story.

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3