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Business groups launch campaign for income tax cut

Thursday, July 11, 2013 | 5:32 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Political activist Rex Sinquefield contributed $1.3 million to a business coalition that launched a public relations effort Thursday in support of a state income tax cut.

The newly formed Grow Missouri coalition plans an election-style media blitz to encourage Missouri's Republican-led legislature to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of the tax-cut legislation.

The bill would cut tax rates for individuals and corporations and create a new deduction for business income reported on individual tax returns, among other things. Once fully phased in, the measure would reduce potential state tax revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars annually, but some of the tax cuts are contingent upon a continued bottom-line growth in state revenues.

The coalition supporting the tax cut is getting its initial financial backing from Sinquefield. He's a retired investment company mogul who has poured millions of dollars into Missouri candidates and political committees that support lower income taxes and school-choice measures, among other things.

Aaron Willard, a Republican consultant who is treasurer of Grow Missouri, said the coalition plans to broadcast ads, mail printed materials to people's homes and mount a social media presence.

"The effort that we're going to run on House Bill 253 is going to be conducted like a campaign," said Willard, who last year managed the campaign of Republican U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner.

Several members of the coalition announced Thursday that they also will finance their own ads.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Associated Industries of Missouri both said they plan to begin running TV ads next Monday supporting a veto override of the tax-cut legislation. The Missouri chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business said it plans to run radio ads starting later this month.

Opponents of the income tax cut have coalesced under the banner of the Coalition for Missouri's Future, a committee originally created to oppose a previous Sinquefield-backed ballot initiative that would have repealed the income tax and replaced it with a higher and more broadly applied sales tax. That coalition includes various education, labor and health care organizations, among others.

But opponents of the income tax cut don't expect to raise as much money for their effort encouraging the veto to be sustained, said Brent Ghan, a spokesman for the Missouri School Boards' Association.

"Our efforts are aimed more at grass-roots support of the veto ... to communicate their legislators what we think is the devastating impact of this tax cut," Ghan said.

Legislators are to meet in September to consider veto overrides.


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