State Sen. Brad Lager is carrying the banner for Northwest Missouri sensibilities.
In the quiet time before the General Assembly reconvenes in January, the Savannah Republican is pursuing the kind of big ideas that can make a difference in Jefferson City. In the process, he is bringing positive attention to the elected officials representing our part of the state.
- Mr. Lager wants to put a stop to lawmakers leaving office and then immediately signing on as lobbyists or paid political consultants. He seeks a two-year moratorium — an ethics reform intended to create some needed separation between official duties and money changing on the Capitol steps.
This measure is reasonable and should receive legislators’ support, barring the kind of special-interest lobbying it aims to tamp down.
- Mr. Lager also wants to cap tax credits for historic preservation and low-income housing. His proposal is a drastic one: a $50 million cap on annual authorizations of credits for each program. By comparison, in the 2012 fiscal year that ended in June, the state spent $164 million on low-income housing credits and $134 million on historic preservation credits.
The proposal, sure to be debated by lawmakers, is Mr. Lager’s way of calling attention to government policy gone haywire. Unrestrained spending on tax credit programs led to a state expenditure of $629.3 million in fiscal 2012, up 20 percent from two years earlier.
As the St. Louis Business Journal notes, if you added this expense to the state’s 2013 general revenue operating expenses, tax credits would account for a remarkable 7.3 percent of the total spending of $8.64 billion.
Lager wants credits trimmed and capped so more money can go to the state’s core responsibilities of funding education, transportation and public safety. This is a responsible position well articulated by our area senator.