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Bloomberg BNA recently posed a series of tax-centric questions to the Republican and Democrat candidates for governor in Missouri. Below are the responses from Republican candidate Eric Greitens.
Interview by Christopher Brown
A combat veteran and Navy SEAL, Eric Greitens served four tours of duty overseas, including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. After coming home, he founded The Mission Continues, a Missouri-based nonprofit that helps returning veterans get back on their feet and give back to their communities. In 2014, Fortune Magazine named Greitens one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.” He lives in St. Louis with his wife Sheena and their sons Joshua (2) and Jacob (4 months)
What are your priorities related to state and local tax, if elected?
Because of decades of failed leadership in Jefferson City, Missouri families and businesses have been stuck with some of the highest personal and corporate income taxes in our region. My first priority as governor will be ensuring that we do everything possible to reduce the tax burden on hard-working Missourians while making sure that every taxpayer dollar is spent as efficiently as possible.
What existing state and local tax measures or initiatives would you seek to support? Or curb?
Currently, Missouri spends over half a billion dollars a year on special interest giveaways and tax credits for well-connected insiders, while ordinary Missourians and small businesses are left holding the bag with higher than necessary taxes. As Governor, I will work to restore fairness to Missouri’s tax code by eliminating these insider deals and using the proceeds to reduce tax rates for all Missourians.
What is the biggest hurdle you foresee to enacting your major tax-related initiatives?
For far too long, our Capitol has been overrun by a culture of corruption that empowers lobbyists and special interests. Although many of our leaders are good people committed to the public good, in order to bring about real cultural change, we need to implement an absolute ban on lobbyist gifts, we should close the revolving door that allows legislators to walk out of their offices and quickly become lobbyists, and we need term limits for all statewide office holders.
What is the biggest challenge you see facing Missouri from a tax and revenue perspective, in light of current and evolving market conditions?
Missouri has ranked 48th in economic growth amongst the states over the past two decades. Failed leadership in Jefferson City has resulted in decades of economic stagnation, and that has hit home in Missourians’ paychecks, in families’ bank accounts and in state revenue as well. By introducing a pro-growth economic agenda, we can uplift Missourians and Missouri businesses, while improving the state’s bottom line, without raising taxes or cutting necessary government services.
Do you believe Missouri has the right balance right now in terms of overall taxes? Does anything need to be re-balanced?
Missourians are overtaxed, and our high personal and corporate income tax rates hurt Missourians who work hard and try to start or grow small businesses. My focus will be on rebalancing our tax code away from serving special interests that can afford to hire the best lobbyists and towards treating all Missourians equally.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Brown in St. Louis at ChrisBrown@bna.com
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