McCaskill Votes to Extend Tax Credits for Alternative Energy Production
Legislation also provides tax credits for middle class families and flood relief in Missouri
With today's economic uncertainty and the high price of gasoline, many American families are struggling to make ends meet and put gas in their cars. Today, United States Senator Claire McCaskill voted for a bill that would encourage the development of alternative sources of energy and reduce American dependence on foreign oil. The bill provides tax credits for the production and investment in wind, solar, geothermal power, and biofuels. For alternative energy consumers, the bill provides a tax credit for the purchase of electric plug-in vehicles.
The legislation will also help victims of Midwest flooding rebuild their homes and businesses and will allow thousands of Missouri families keep a little bit more in their family budgets by extending a number of expiring tax cuts for families and businesses and increase the income level at which Americans become subject to the alternative minimum tax to prevent 20 million Americans from having to pay higher taxes.
"The only way we can truly fix the high cost of gasoline is to create competition in the market. We can do that through investments in alternative sources of energy," said McCaskill. "It's about time we finally passed this package that provides much needed incentives for companies to development alternative energy and create green jobs in these tough economic times."
The bill also includes $6.4 billion in tax breaks for victims of the storms that ravaged the Midwest this past summer, including parts of Missouri, and Hurricane Ike victims in Texas and the Gulf Coast. The legislation will make it easier for victims to rebuild their homes and businesses through tax credits and deductions. It also provides tax incentives to encourage Americans to take part in charitable giving that assist recovery efforts.
"Too many Missourians are struggling to get back on their feet after this summers' natural disasters. This bill will make it a little bit easier to put their lives back together," McCaskill continued.
Finally, the bill also included important legislation that would require parity in the coverage of mental health care. The Mental Health Parity bill, which McCaskill cosponsored, would require private insurance plans that offer mental health benefits as part of the coverage to offer such benefits on par with other medical benefits. Any cost-sharing or benefit limits imposed on mental health services must not be any more restrictive than those imposed on other medical services.
The bipartisan agreement passed the Senate today with a vote of 93-2. Many of the provisions in this package have already passed the House of Representatives. The White House expressed support for the Senate bill today.
The agreement includes the following:
* Clean Energy Tax Incentives: Totaling approximately $17 billion to extend tax credits and incentives to wind, solar power and geothermal energy and provide an additional tax credit for facilities that begin producing cellulosic biofuel in the next five years. It also provides a new tax credit for plug-in electric drive vehicles, and extends the $1.00 per gallon biodiesel production tax credit which was set to expire this year.
* Midwest Flood and Hurricane Disaster Relief: $6.4 billion in emergency tax relief for disaster victims of the Midwest storms and Hurricane Ike to provide families and companies with the ability to rebuild homes and businesses.
* Extension of expiring tax cuts for businesses and families, including child tax credit, deductions for above-the-line for qualified tuition, the educator tax deduction, tax credits for research and development and many others. Also included is a measure to require that private insurance companies that offer mental health benefits do so at an equal level with other medical benefits
* Alternative Minimum Tax fix: The alternative minimum tax was designed to prevent wealthy families from avoiding tax payments through collection of deductibles by setting a level of income above which Americans must pay a certain minimum in income taxes. However, the income threshold has not kept pace with inflation and the rising cost of living and without this legislation over 20 million middle class Americans will face a tax increase, including 345,000 Missourians.