McCaskill Ending Cuban Embargo Is Part of Path to Reform
February 24, 2015

Missouri senator Claire McCaskill says lifting ther US trade embargo with Cuba would be the best way to pressure Cuba to reform its government.
McCaskill spoke to KMBC TV Tuesday about her trip to Cuba two weekend ago.
It will be up to Congress to lift the embargo.
”The Cuban government is using this embargo as an excuse, as to why they cannot provide prosperity to the people of Cuba. We need to rip away that excuse. Then the people will be in a better position to hold their government accountable,” she said in the interview.
McCaskill admitted lifting the 53-year old embargo “will not happen overnight,”.
But she’s optimistic that a bipartisan group of lawmakers will eventually end the embargo.
McCaskill says Missouri’s agricultural economy has a lot to offer Cuba. At one time,Missouri exported considerable rice to Cuba.
She says restoring trade will be good for the Missouri economy.
She noted the US has no difficulty trading with other repressive governments around the world..
Mccaskill also noted that there are some small business in Cuba that do function on their own.
“We saw a young woman who had bought one sewing machine, and then another sewing machine and then another. And was making and selling baby clothes. Not working for the state, working for herself,” McCaskill remembered.
The Missouri push to Cuba continues next week when Governor Jay Nixon joins another trade Mission to the island.

Economics Prof Doubts Missouri Sales Tax Holiday Boosts Economy
August 2, 2013

Post Dispatch:
A new school year is approaching, and shoppers will head to stores this weekend for a tax-free holiday on school supplies, electronics and some clothing.

John Mollenkamp, acting director of the Missouri Department of Revenue, says shoppers can save up to 8 or 9 percent if local governments also participate in the tax breaks.

UMSL associate professor of economics Lea Kosnik said such sales make people excited to run to the stores and spend money they may not normally spend.

But there is still uncertainty about how much these sales tax holidays actually stimulate the economy.

“One of the good things, I suppose, about it is it’s kind of like a feel good factor—things that people probably consume and do a little bit more of than they should,” Kosnik said. “And so this tax-free weekend could help local businesses, but it might lead to some spending that you shouldn’t do. If anything, I feel like the behavioral economics side of this might reinforce that a tax-free weekend isn’t always as good as it sounds on paper.”

Businesses also may be more prone to increase prices or not have as substantial of sales during a tax-free holiday.

In addition to improving income for local businesses, helping low-income families and stimulating the economy are possible goals for such tax breaks. But Kosnik said the information just isn’t there to find out if the breaks are effective.

“I do think that the data would help to make it more efficient for sure,” she said. “It’s hard to say right now exactly how efficient or inefficient it is. But if we have the data, then if it is efficient we can increase the areas where it’s working best, or if we found out it was inefficient in certain areas, then maybe we could vote to repeal it. Data would be great for helping with the efficiency of the tax-free weekend.”

Revenue Department spokeswoman Michelle Gleba told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the department does not keep data on tax savings during these holidays.

Several states have ended their sales tax holidays, citing the lack of economic stimulus and the need for broader tax reform, including New York, North Carolina, and Illinois. North Carolina will have their final tax-exempt weekend this weekend, a tax reform effort made recently

Missouri Company Closing 2 Show-Me Plants, Jobs Go to Mexico
March 16, 2013

Nordyne will move 700 Missouri jobs to Mexico and close plants in Boonville and Poplar Bluff.
The company, based in O’Fallon, Mo., says it will spend $40 million on a new “state-of-the-art” campus in Saltillo, Mexico, where it will make the heating and air conditioning systems now made in Missouri.

The Poplar Bluff plant, which employs 500, will close by 2014, the company said. The Boonville plant, employing 200, will remain until 2015.

“This is absolutely no reflection on the workforce in Boonville or Poplar Bluff, their dedication or loyalty. Both plants have performed well and done everything that has been asked of them,” said David LaGrand, chief executive of Nordyne, in a letter to workers.

“Our industry has been shrinking, and it is now down from previous highs by 30 percent,” he said in the letter. “We hoped the industry would recover by now, but it continues to languish due to the burden of heavy regulations and our economy.”

The affected workers are not members of a union.

Nordyne is owned by Nortek Inc., whose products include audio-video equipment, range hoods and bathroom fans, among other products.

In a conference call with analysts Friday, Nortek CEO Michael Clarke said the move will “generate cost savings that will enhance our competitiveness.”

The entire move will cost $45 million to $50 million, he said. The company offered no estimate of the savings it expects. Nortek, based in Providence, R.I., earned a profit of $9.5 million last year compared with a loss of $55.9 million in 2011.

A quarter of all residential heating and air conditioning units are made outside the U.S., “and we expect this number to grow,” LaGrand said. All but one of Nordyne’s competitors make products outside America, he said.

The company says it will offer incentives to workers who remain while the plants are phased out. They will receive severance, extended health coverage and relocation services.

The company will join Whirlpool, John Deere, La-Z-Boy, Lennox, Chrysler, General Electric and General Motors among companies with plants around Saltillo.

Missouri Senate Passes Tac Cut Bill
March 12, 2013

(AP)–Missouri senators have passed legislation that would cut income taxes for residents and businesses but raise the state sales taxes.

The Republican-led Senate voted 23-11 Tuesday for the tax overhaul despite calls by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to reject the bill.

Supporters contend it is necessary for Missouri to cut taxes to keep pace with recent income tax reductions in neighboring Kansas. But opponents say the sales tax increase could fall hardest on the poor and that the overall loss of state revenue cut hurt funding for schools.

The legislation cuts the income tax by three-quarters of a percentage point and increases the sales tax by one-half cent over five years.

Legislative researchers estimate a net loss to state revenues between $477 million and $670 million once fully implemented.

Missouri Economy: State Revenue Up 9%
March 5, 2013

(AP) — Missouri’s revenues are up nearly 9 percent through the first two-thirds of the state’s fiscal year.
Figures released Monday by the state Office of Administration show Missouri’s finances have improved mainly because of a decline in tax refunds and an increase in individual income tax collections.
Through February, net general revenues were up 8.7 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. The total includes a 5.5 percent increase in individual income taxes and a 16.5 percent decline in tax refunds. Sales tax collections have remained relatively flat for the fiscal year.
Missouri’s 2013 budget year began last July and runs through the end of this June.
Tax collections in February alone were virtually unchanged from February 2012. But for the entire fiscal year, collections were up $394 million.