Special interests have filled the tax code with loopholes that allow them to skip on taxes the rest of us have to pay. The luxury yachters of Missouri, for instance, don't have to pay sales tax when they purchase a new luxury yacht. Why? Because a special interest tax loophole says they don't.
Missouri's state income taxes are still at the same levels they were 80 years ago -- and haven't been adjusted for inflation. As a result, anyone making more than just $9,000 per year is part of the top income bracket and pays the highest rate. In 1931 that probably made sense; in 2012, folks making minimum wage are paying the same tax rate as millionaires.
Our broken system has led to budget shortfalls -- and real consequences. In the past two years, Missouri has made cuts to vital programs that benefit senior citizens, foster parents and public employees like teachers and firefighters. Cuts have hit everything from our public universities to critical mental health services.
We need to rethink our priorities. As a state representative, I'll always put cutting luxury yacht loopholes before cutting schools.