At this morning's Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) meeting, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder cast the only vote against a proposal to pay the first year of property taxes for working families making less than $98,000 a year who purchase a new or existing Missouri home next year. The grants will be for owner-occupied purchases only.
The plan, which is expected to help 9,000-11,000 Missouri families using $15 million in MHDC reserve funds, passed by a 7-1 vote.
Qualified individuals and families will be eligible to receive $1,250 or the amount of their first year's real estate tax bill, whichever is highest, when they purchase a new or existing residential home. An income-qualified individual or family can enhance this base amount, up to $1,750, if they purchase an energy-efficient new home or make energy efficient improvements to an existing home that is purchased.
For the ostensive leader of a party that never met a tax cut it didn't like, Kinder's vote is pretty hard to understand.
Update: Here's Treasurer Clint Zweifel's statement about the vote:
As Chair of the Missouri Housing Development Commission, I am very excited to announce that moments ago we passed a $35 million economic development initiative. This initiative, first unveiled by Governor Jay Nixon and myself on November 24, will provide property tax relief to thousands of qualified middle- and low-income Missouri homebuyers, create and protect potentially thousands of good-paying jobs and help improve energy-efficiency in Missouri housing.
The $35 million package was approved at today's MHDC meeting, which was webcast live for the first time ever in an effort to bring increased transparency to the housing agency. The package provides:
1. $15 million to pay the first year of property taxes for qualified homebuyers who purchase a new or existing home after January 1, 2010. This has the opportunity to help between 9,000 and 11,000 Missouri families making less than $100,000 a year.
2. $15 million to finance and begin construction on affordable multi-family housing. This will create and save thousands of jobs at a time when Missouri unemployment is over 9% and allow us to continue to make quality affordable housing available to all Missourians.
3. $5 million in assistance to qualified homebuyers to help with down payments and closing costs. This helps potential homebuyers overcome the obstacle of coming up with enough cash for a down payment and closing costs. MHDC has been a national leader on this front.
4. Additional assistance to homebuyers who purchase an energy-efficient home or purchase energy-saving appliances. This is an opportunity to raise energy-efficiency standards in Missouri, making a positive impact on both the economy and the environment. It's a win-win.
This economic development package provides property tax relief to thousands of Missourians at a crucial time in our economy without spending Missouri tax dollars. This will be paid for entirely out of MHDC's reserve fund and federal recovery funds already in our possession. This comes in addition to more than $100 million in recovery funds and more than $19 million in reserves already allocated to boost Missouri's economy and put Missourians back to work.
My goal as Chair is to ensure MHDC is playing a pivotal role in Missouri's economic recovery and I believe we are doing that. The agency already offers competitive interest rates on home loans for qualified borrowers and a cash assistance loan plan for first-time homebuyers to help with down payments and closing costs. MHDC has also been a national leader in allowing Missourians to use the $8,000 federal first-time homebuyer tax credit up front for a down payment or closing costs. This program has been a success and will continue until at least April of 2010.
At a time when economic resources are scarce, it is important for you to know that I am constantly looking for new and innovative ways to get our economy moving again as well as ways to better marshal the tools and resources that are available.
One of those tools is the Missouri Linked Deposit Program, which provides low-interest loans to qualified small businesses and family farms. On November 23, I announced the largest-ever small business loan issued through the program. A small agricultural company in Marshall qualified for a $3.4 million loan, which will save the business more than $300,000 over five years compared to the cost of a regular loan. In addition, the loan will allow the company to add jobs and expand its customer base.
Thanks to changes made earlier this year to the Missouri Linked Deposit Program through my Invest in Missouri legislation, I am able to issue these kinds of loans to more small businesses with less turnaround time, allowing them to receive much-needed capital quickly.
Again, this costs Missouri taxpayers nothing. The Missouri Linked Deposit Program allows us to invest right here in Missouri to help small businesses that need it the most and who are playing a pivotal role in our economic recovery.
We have about $200 million in loans already out to small business throughout Missouri and we still have another $520 million available. To find out more about the Missouri Linked Deposit Program, click here.