OUR OPINION: Tax credit would invest in Missourians

Whenever women's hearts get changed, communities get changed.

That motivation is what drives a Jefferson City nonprofit dedicated to helping people recover from substance use issues.

It should also be the motivation for passage of a House bill that would provide tax credits to help those organizations that provide recovery support services.

Eight witnesses testified last week before the House Corrections and Public Institutions Committee in support of House Bill 1028, sponsored by Rep. Travis Smith, R-Dora.

Many of the witnesses shared how addiction recovery programs, like Healing House and New Beginnings of Jefferson City, had helped change their lives.

Their plea to lawmakers was to create the tax credits prescribed in House Bill 1028 that could immensely help those recovery programs.

How might the tax credits help? Look no farther than the Capital City for an example.

Healing House and New Beginnings, is a Christian ministry designed to help men and women recover "from a hopeless state of mind and body," while growing their faith and in their responsibility to the community. Through its sober living homes, the ministry helps people who are recovering from addiction rebuild their shattered lives.

Currently, the Healing House has living space for 25 women recovering from substance use disorders. But the need is much greater than the resources.

Rebecca Schuessler, the program coordinator for Healing House and New Beginnings, told the House panel the organization wants to provide more opportunities for women in the center to have their children with them.

Research has shown that family can play an important role in the recovery of these mothers. The hope, expressed by Schuessler, is that the tax credit could help the center afford to expand so that more children could stay with their recovering mothers and improve the chances of success for the women.

"I got my children back in 2020 and came to Healing House in 2019. Ever since then, it has just been beautiful," Schuessler said.

Healing House is just one example of how the tax credits could be life-saving.

The committee also heard how the work of Mission Gate Prison Ministries, based out of Chesterfield, has reunited families and literally changed lives.

Joyce Fields, the program coordinator with Mission Gate Ministries, told the lawmakers the organization had helped reunite more than 60 children with their mothers. Her husband, James, recounted how the Mission Gate men's program has helped around 300 people a year.

"My story is very similar," James Fields said. "About 13 years ago, Greg Smith picked up a wild-haired, crazy looking guy from the bus stop that just got out of prison. I was a person that parole boards had said not to accept. I sit before you with 13 years of sobriety, with my life completely changed thanks to programs like Mission Gate."

Tax credits are designed to encourage or reward behavior that government deems is important to its citizens. Surely, the life-saving work of organizations such as these is a worthy cause and a wise investment in Missouri's families.

-- News Tribune