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Steelman "Never Voted For A Tax Increase"?

On Monday, Republican Senate candidate Sarah Steelman made a sweeping (and incorrect) claim about her voting record in the Missouri state senate when she stated that she “never voted for a tax increase.” This has sparked a heated back and forth between Steelman and one of her primary opponents, John Brunner, who took a swing and missed when the attack spiraled downward into an argument about semantics. Brunner argues that Steelman voted to make a temporary tax permanent. Steelman counters that Brunner “does not understand the legislative process.”

And while that may be true, it is less because he is mischaracterizing the vote Steelman cast and more because there is a much clearer example of Steelman voting to raise taxes.

In 2002, Steelman voted to create a brand new tax. Here is text from the legislation Steelman supported:

“In addition to all other fees and taxes required or paid, a tax is hereby imposed upon licensed retail pharmacies for the privilege of providing outpatient prescription drugs in this state. The tax is imposed upon the Missouri gross retail prescription receipts earned from filling outpatient retail prescriptions.”

“A tax is hereby imposed.” Maybe Brunner should run with that one instead of arguing about the difference between “increasing” and “extending.”

Steelman Voted To Create Retail Pharmacy Tax In Order To Fund Medicaid Pharmacy Program. On May 15, 2002, Steelman voted for the Senate Substitute version of the Senate Committee Substitute version of HB 1898, a bill that created a retail pharmacy tax “for the privilege of providing outpatient prescription drugs.” The bill imposed a new retail pharmacy tax upon all licensed retail pharmacies in Missouri in order to fund the state’s Medicaid Pharmacy Program. The retail pharmacy tax was limited to 6% of a pharmacy’s monthly gross retail prescription receipts. According to the Missouri House of Representatives, “This act imposes a tax upon licensed retail pharmacies in Missouri for the privilege of providing outpatient prescription drugs. The tax rate of up to [sic] will be based on monthly gross retail prescription receipts of pharmacies, not to exceed 6%… All revenues from the tax will be deposited in the Pharmacy Tax Fund, created in the act. Moneys in the fund will be used to provide payments for services related to the Medicaid pharmacy program.” The bill was passed by a vote of 24-9. [Missouri State Senate, Daily Journal of the Senate, Day 73, 5/15/02, Page 1655; Missouri House of Representatives, Official Summary, HB 1898]