Missouri House speaker: St. Louis’ crime, taxes will be focus during 2024 session

(The Center Square) – The City of St. Louis will be an important area to focus on during the 2024 legislation session, according to Missouri’s speaker of the House of Representatives.

“The city has a lot of challenges and we need to be there for the city where we can be,” Speaker Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis, said in an interview with The Center Square. “We also need to hold the city accountable to the people, and not just residents of the city but those who live in the county and residents who live around the state and for those who visit St. Louis.”

The city’s 1% earnings tax and crime are two areas Plocher identified as priorities. In late August, he appointed a special interim committee to review the earnings tax, currently collected in St. Louis and Kansas City.

“A lot of people are paying that earnings tax who don’t live in the city,” Plocher said. “But where is the benefit to the citizens for that earnings tax? How is it being allocated? We’re not drawing any conclusions here. We’re going to look at it and ask the committee just to evaluate it.”

Plocher said Republicans and other members of the House haven’t set a strategy for the upcoming September veto session. Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s June veto of a crime bill drew significant attention as legislators believed it contained many worthwhile initiatives.

Plocher praised the work of newly appointed prosecutor Gabe Gore in St. Louis, but said the city requires ongoing review by legislators.

“It’s about accountability,” Plocher said. “We have to hold people accountable when they’re committing violent crimes. We have to have people feel safe in St. Louis. It’s the gem of the state in many ways. It has things the rest of the state doesn’t have and gives people a reason to visit. But you should feel safe.”

Plocher praised the passage of bills out of the House during this year’s session and highlighted elimination of state taxes on Social Security benefits.

“I don’t think our seniors needed to be taxed again,” Plocher said. “I think the citizens are better in controlling their money than the government. I don’t think we need to look to the government for the solutions. I think we look for the government to create a level playing field so its citizens can compete.”

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