Auditor has no fiscal note for petitions

State Auditor Tom Schweich said Thursday he can’t issue a fiscal note for any of the nine proposed initiative petitions seeking a statewide vote on changing the way state government gets much of its income — because he can’t determine how the proposals will affect state and local revenues.

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The Associated Press

State Auditor Tom Schweich, back to camera, speaks to members of the media Thursday during AP/MPA Day at the Capitol. Schweich told the group that too many uncertainties exist to give a reliable estimate of the total cost, savings or change in revenue if the state replaced its income tax with any of the numerous enhanced sales tax proposals.

Jefferson City lawyer Marc Ellinger, representing supporters of replacing Missouri’s income tax with an expanded sales tax, submitted the nine proposed constitutional amendments on Jan. 7.

State law requires the auditor to “assess the fiscal impact of the proposed measure” and to consult with state agencies, local governments, lawmakers “and others with knowledge pertinent to the cost of the proposal,” then prepare a fiscal note and summary that “state the measure’s estimated cost or savings, if any, to state or local governmental entities.”

Schweich, a lawyer, author, former U.S. ambassador and college professor, became Missouri’s new auditor just a month ago.

“Those of you who know me ... know that I do not hesitate to take a side or express an opinion,” he told reporters, editors and media company owners attending the annual Associated Press/Missouri Press Association “Day at the Capitol” event. “We looked at this very, very closely, and I would have been very happy to give you a number ...

“But we ended up concluding that there were so many things left to the future, I did not think it would be fiscally responsible to try to quantify a petition without knowing what the Legislature is going to do.”

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