Instead of answering calls to hold a special session of the Missouri Legislature to address steadily rising violent crime in 2019, Governor Mike Parson opted to pass tax credits that benefitted a donor who had contributed over $100,000 to his reelection. Parson’s failure to address violent crime in 2019 is sharply at odds with his reelection campaign that is attempting to place him on the side of law and order.
In September 2019, Gov. Parson called a special session of the Missouri Legislature, controlled by the GOP, to pass a series of lucrative vehicle tax breaks that benefited Enterprise Holdings, the private parent organization of rental companies such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
At the time, lawmakers from both parties were reportedly baffled at Gov. Parson’s urgency on vehicle tax credits. “Conservatives and liberals alike are just really wondering why this issue rises to the level of calling a special session,” Missouri Rep. Kip Kendrick said to the St. Louis Dispatch in September 2019.
But a paper trail pointed to Gov. Parson’s political intent. Only days after Parson signed new vehicle tax credits into law, Andrew Taylor, the Chairman of Enterprise Holdings, and his wife Barbara Taylor, contributed $70,000 to a PAC backing Gov. Parson’s reelection. In the year since, the couple has contributed another $40,000 to Parson’s reelection effort.
After Parson’s refusal to act on violent crime in 2019, homicides in Kansas City, Missouri spiked by nearly 35%. In fact, three of the nation’s 12 highest homicide rates are in Missouri cities: St. Louis is 1st, Kansas City is 5th, and Springfield is 12th.
In July 2020, Gov. Parson cited these very statistics to call a special session to address violent crime, as he was attempting to beef up his law and order bonafides to fuel a campaign reelection narrative. As Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade noted, “We had hoped the governor’s special session call would be motivated by a desire to save lives. Instead, he only seeks to distract from his bungled response to the pandemic, and the generational economic devastation resulting from it, with misinformed tough-on-crime rhetoric that will solve nothing.”
Governor Parson is on the ballot in November 2020.