WHAT OTHERS SAY: It's fitting that tax credit programs carry Norma Champion's name

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | 7:43 p.m. CST

State Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, has taken a smart step to get the legislature on track to reinstate much-needed benevolent tax credits and honor a woman who has made a big difference in so many lives.

Dixon recently said that he will pre-file legislation seeking to renew several benevolent tax credit programs and rename them “Champion for Children” tax credits in honor of former Sen. Norma Champion, the bill’s original sponsor.

Benevolent tax credits, offered to donors to a variety of nonprofit organizations, became a casualty in a battle over economic development tax credits in the last legislative session. Political wrangling over the value of historic preservation and low-income housing tax credits that benefit developers resulted in all tax credits expiring at the end of August.

Dixon pledged then that reauthorizing the benevolent tax credits during the next session would be a priority for him.

The credits are especially important to local organizations, including the Pregnancy Resource Center, Child Advocacy Center, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Isabel’s House. Donors who can take advantage of the tax credits provide needed funding for such organizations.

The payoff for the state is that these organizations offer resources that would otherwise have to be provided by the state. For example, Isabel’s House provides emergency shelter for children whose parents temporarily cannot keep them. That prevents the family from having to turn to state social services.

Naming the tax credit program “Champion for Children” is especially fitting, not just because Champion sponsored the original bill.

Champion has a legacy as a true “champion” for children, especially in the Springfield area. Best known as Aunt Norma, for decades Champion hosted “The Children’s Hour” television show, influencing generations of Ozarks children with lessons of love and acceptance.

She went on to join the faculty at Evangel University to teach communications and broadcasting. Later, political science was added to her teaching schedule. That is because after retiring from television, she also began affecting lives through her work in politics, first on the Springfield City Council, then the Missouri House of Representatives and finally in the Missouri Senate.

It is appropriate that Aunt Norma should be honored in this way, and it is important that the work the Champion for Children tax credits can accomplish continue.

Copyright Springfield News-Leader. Reprinted with permission.

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