JEFFERSON CITY — As Missouri state government looks at declining revenues, some state lawmakers are proposing a tax break for those who buy hybrid vehicles.
One bill for the 2009 session would grant an income tax deduction for all hybrid motor vehicles bought after Jan. 1, 2010. The deduction would be either 10 percent of the vehicle's purchase price or $2,000.
Rep. David Sater, R-Cassville, said the bill would promote lower fuel consumption, be better for the environment and boost the state's automotive industry.
"I was interested in trying to increase the auto industry sales specifically for Ford Motor Co., which makes the hybrid vehicle (in a Kansas City plant)," he said.
Sater said he also sponsored the bill last session because of his interest in environmental issues.
Although the House passed the bill in 2008, it never made its way out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Rep. Gary Dusenberg, R-Jackson County, said he voted against the bill in 2008 because it would take tax money away from state government. Legislative staff estimated the proposal would cost the state nearly $500,000 in its first full year of implementation.
"I have nothing against hybrid vehicles, I'm just not a tax credit person," he said. "The economy was probably the reason I didn't vote for it last year ... even though it's a good cause."
Dusenberg said the total cost of the bill would determine whether he would vote for it.
Because of the struggling economy — including a projected $342 million budget shortfall in Missouri for the current fiscal year that ends June 30 — Sater said he knows passing a tax credit bill will be difficult. Still, he said he's optimistic that it will find support in the legislature.
"If it doesn't work, you haven't lost too much," he said. "But if it does work, well, then you add something to the momentum of helping change a situation."
In addition to this bill, Sater has also sponsored two other green bills.
The first would provide an income tax deduction for the purchase of fuel cell or solar energy generating equipment. The deduction would be either 50 percent of the purchase price or $4,000 for solar equipment and $1,000 for fuel cell equipment.
Sater said he was inspired to sponsor this bill after a friend spoke favorably about using solar panels to heat his home.
"I have a friend of mine that used no electricity at all," he said. "And his energy use is about $5 a month."
The second bill would require gas stations to disclose if premium gasoline contains ethanol at the pump.
Sater said he sponsored the bill because ethanol harms boat motors. While marinas are not permitted to sell gas containing ethanol, many boat owners buy their gasoline at regular gas stations.