Republicans break ranks in Senate

Some support tax increases to help balance the budget.
Thursday, January 29, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:47 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Some Senate Republicans have expressed support for revenue increases to help balance the budget.

Sen. Matt Bartle, R- Lee’s Summit, introduced bills that would increase gambling boat admission fees and court fees with the proceeds earmarked for education.

“What I’m trying to avoid is the situation where there needs to be a broader tax increase,” he said.

Bartle emphasized that there are many tax increases he does not support.

The gambling boat admission fee increase would raise $150 million per year. Bartle expects the court fees to generate $20 to $30 million a year.

Bartle is the fifth Senate Republican to indicate support for a tax increase of that magnitude.

Three Republicans joined Democrats in supporting a proposal in the Senate last year that would have raised the sales tax by one-half cent. The measure was defeated by a one-vote margin, 16-17. Bartle voted against it.

If Bartle, as well as the three Republicans from last year, vote with the Democrats for the revenue increases, the measures would receive a slim majority. Sen. John Russell, R-Lebanon, has also voiced support for tax increases.

Bartle said the Senate supported some revenue proposals last year and making more cuts to the budget could increase support for his bills.

“My sense is revenue proposals are going to be a little more popular in April than they are right now,” he said.

One proposal would raise gambling boat admission fees from $2 to $5 with the $3 increase going toward education. The $5 fee would continue to be imposed every two hours, as the current admission fee is. The fee differs from the one proposed by the governor, which would create a one-time $7 admission fee every 24 hours.

Sen. Carl Vogel, R-Jefferson City, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said he opposes Bartle’s admission fee bill in its current form. But he says the process is open.

“If we hear the bill and there’s a motion at the proper time to move his bill out, I’m more than happy to grant it a vote,” Vogel said.

The other proposal would create new court filing fees, which also would fund education. These fees would include $50 for any party that demands a jury; $80 for each intervener in a circuit court civil case; and $80 for the filing of a foreign judgment, a decision obtained in another state and collected in Missouri courts.

Bartle said the fee structure is similar to those used in other states.

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