With the year coming to a close, the Missouri General Assembly is gearing up for the 2020 legislative session. There is much work to be done before the start of session, which is set to begin on Jan. 8, 2020. I’ve already started working on my priorities for the upcoming legislative session, and pre-filed several of them. Easing the tax burden, specifically property taxes, on hardworking Missourians and improving government accountability are my main goals for the 2020 legislative session.
One of the biggest problems facing our community is the recent spike in property tax. I’ve heard from many of you that your property tax assessments and resulting tax bills were inaccurate and far too high. Some have seen their tax bills double, while others are expected to pay hundreds of dollars more than last year. Naturally, these sudden increases have left some Missourians scrambling to pay their bills with the holidays right around the corner. I believe taxpayers should not experience sticker shock when they receive their property tax bills.
That is why I’m proposing legislation to limit how much property taxes can increase each year. By capping tax rate increases, I believe we can allow for property taxes to gradually adjust with changes to inflation, market value and other factors, without surprising Missourians with an unexpected and costly tax bill.
Another legislative proposal I will be working on is a proposed amendment to Missouri’s Constitution to allow voters to elect the Jackson County Assessor. Jackson County is one of only two governments in our state that appoints an assessor, rather than elects one (the other is St. Louis City). I trust the people of Jackson County to select the person best able to serve them in public office, and the assessor’s office should be no different. While empowering voters, I believe this change will have the added benefit of increasing the office’s accountability and responsiveness to the people of Jackson County. If this proposal is approved by the Missouri General Assembly, it will have to be approved by Missouri voters statewide before going into effect.
In addition, I am proposing another constitutional amendment that relates to voter turnout and taxes. I am proposing that the state require local taxing jurisdictions to receive at least a 22 percent voter turnout rate in order to enact a tax increase. Too often, taxing jurisdictions propose tax increases, hold a quiet election for the measure and get it approved by a small segment of voters. Meanwhile, the vast majority of voters are now on the hook for the bill. By implementing reasonable, attainable turnout thresholds for enacting tax increases, I believe we can ensure adequate representation regarding taxation. This amendment will also need to be approved by a statewide vote in order to go into effect.
I am also proposing a constitutional amendment to help end double taxation. Across the state, there are taxing jurisdictions that overlap, but generate revenue for similar services. There have been, and currently are, Missourians who are caught in the middle with double the taxes for the same services. My legislation would allow taxpayers to decide which district they pay into. This legislation empowers citizens by giving them an active role in deciding how their hard-earned money is spent, as well as helping reduce their overall tax burden.
Lastly, I’ve pre-filed a bill to help Missourians cover certain medical costs. The Long-Term Dignity Act would allow Missourians to create long-term savings accounts to cover costs associated with Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases. By saving money early on, and with the power of compounding interest, Missourians with a family history of Alzheimer’s and similar diseases can be prepared for whatever life may throw at them.
As you can see, I’m already hard at work preparing my priorities for the 2020 legislative session. I’m eager for the start of session and working with my colleagues to pass commonsense and fiscally-responsible legislation.
Please feel free to contact my office in Jefferson City at (573) 751-1464. For information about committees or sponsored legislation for the 2019 session, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Cierpiot.