Today (April 16th, 2014), the state of Missouri Legislature passed a $620 million tax cut with an annual price tag.

What is rather flabber-gasting about this decision is that this Legislature has been dragging its heels for two years on another decision: to expand Medicaid to about 300,000 low-income uninsured Missourians.  By recent reports, the legislation working its way through the Legislature is not as likely to pass.

Now someone needs to explain to this economist why:

  • the Legislature would pass a tax cut bill so quickly and easily, when the price tag is so high in terms of how it would take leave a big hole in our state general fund, even though the vast majority of the benefits of this tax cut would go to high income persons,
  • yet will not pass a Medicaid expansion, even though the price tag for this expansion to the state is ZERO in terms of general funds in FY2015 because it is entirely paid for by the federal government; 
  • and even better, because of savings to the Medicaid program and new revenues will actually reduce the drain on the general fund by $94 million...
  • and -- EVEN better -- a Medicaid expansion would bring into the state at least $1.6 billion in FY2015, which by some estimates will create at least 24,000 jobs in the state?
This is the kind of economic policy decision that is a "no-brainer".  In other words, every state Legislator ought to vote for this in a heartbeat.  In fact if they do not do it, they are literally harming their constituents, especially those 300,000 low-income persons who would get health insurance coverage, and the many others who would get jobs.  

This mean-spirited, heartless decision to help high income constituents amounts to a regressive policy decision to help higher-income constituents with a tax cut, but not lift a finger to help lower-income persons who have a serious need for health insurance.  It seems to ignore the plight of these people, and all of the evidence of their needs, not to mention the many hundreds of people who have recently lost their jobs in the health care industry.

So, again, please tell me why the Legislature is not moving quickly towards passage of a Medicaid expansion, now?