COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Missouri Housing Development Commission met Tuesday, voting 8-2 to cancel the state’s tax credit match for federal low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC), a move criticized by Lt. Gov. Mike Parson as one that will hurt rural Missouri by drastically limiting housing options for the disabled, the elderly, and veterans in rural Missouri. Wait list estimates for LIHTC developments soar towards 30,000 – double the population of an average city in Missouri.
“I believe it will hurt rural Missouri. None of us know the impact of what this is going to do to the people of the State of Missouri,” Parson said during the meeting, hoping the vote on the motion would be delayed until more assessment of ending the program could be done.
Less than two hours before Tuesday’s MHDC annual meeting, two new members were appointed by Gov. Eric Greitens. Greitens appointed Clay County Republican Craig Porter and St. Louis area John Scariot, CFO of BluePenguin Payments, who were both sworn in at the beginning of the meeting.
The hour-long meeting saw the passage of the FY2018 Rental Production Qualified Allocation Plan on an 8-2 vote, with only Parson and Treasurer Eric Schmitt voting in opposition to the move.
Before the vote, Schmitt made a motion to delay the vote on the QAP, pending passage of the federal tax reform, which the Governor’s commissioners cited originally as a reason to withhold the credits. The federal tax reform plan is expected to be passed this week. Parson also made a motion in hopes that a study could be done on the impact of the motion.
Commissioners ultimately voted 8-2 against a motion to delay the vote, which would have held the vote back from taking place until the Senate is back in session. It is widely believed that it will be a stiff challenge to confirm the appointed commissioners.
The move by the Governor’s commissions to halt state LIHTC was bemoaned by parts the legislature, who Crowell hopes to see pass tax credit reform. At the November 17 meeting, Parson stated that the commission opting to not to allocate tax credits bypassed the will of the legislature.
“As a member of this commission, I have more legal authority by statute to spend $152 million over 10 years of state taxpayer dollars than I had as a member of the state House of Representatives, the majority leader of the state house, or as a state senator under the state Constitution,” Crowell, who was appointed by the Governor, said. “That is absolutely insane.”
During his remarks, Crowell blamed the Senate for not supporting his previous efforts and implied that today’s move was done as a way to force action by the General Assembly to reform the state’s tax credit programs.
Since that November meeting, MHDC staff held a series of public comment sessions and collected testimony around the state regarding LIHTC. Staff reported only one comment supported the Governor’s commissioners’ plan to cancel the program.
“Lobbyists and insiders hate it; the people of Missouri are for it, and we’re proud to be fighting for you,” Gov. Greitens said in a statement following the meeting.
The Senate Democratic Caucus fears the move will harm those on fixed incomes and looks forward to creating a solution in the upcoming session.
“Right now, there is a waiting list of Missouri seniors and people with disabilities who need affordable housing,” a joint Senate Democratic Caucus statement said. “By canceling the program to help build these homes, this problem will only get worse. The Senate Democratic Caucus remains committed to helping Missourians in need, and we look forward to working with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to put in place an efficient and affordable solution to help low-income Missourians find a home.”
“This vote will have devastating consequences for low-income seniors, homeless veterans and people with disabilities in rural and urban Missouri,” said Stephen Acree, founding board president of Missouri Workforce Housing Association, an umbrellas group comprising over 200 organizations advocating for strong state affordable housing policy. For-profit developers and non-profit community development corporations use the credits to finance low-income housing projects across Missouri.
“Tens of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens have sat on waiting lists for months and year waiting for housing opportunities that these tax credits help make possible,” Acree said. “The secrecy and last-minute appointments by Gov. Greitens to force this vote before the state Senate could approve his appointments is shameful. Unfortunately, this is a pattern in state government where politicians make promises to veterans and others to get elected and fail to keep them once in office.”
Greitens is the first governor since Governor Joseph Teasdale (1977-1981) to be from one of Missouri’s major cities.