Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Utility Bill Is Just a Back-Door Tax Increase

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Utility Bill Is Just a Back-Door Tax Increase

Article excerpt

As a former legislator who fought to ensure Missourians kept their hard-earned money, I believe SB 207 and HB 398 are horrible public policy. It is legislation that will hit Missourians the hardest; in their pocket books with a new surcharge on electric bills and faster unnecessary rate increases. I feel so strongly about this new surcharge that will cost Missourians their hard earned money that I ask you to oppose it with me.

The only thing worse than more taxes on Missourians is to institute stealth taxes that take away the economic freedom and opportunity of Missouri families and businesses.

Unfortunately, despite historic majorities in the Missouri legislature, this is precisely what Republicans are considering doing by adding an expensive new surcharge to Missourians' electric bills.

The proposed new "infrastructure" surcharge is little more than a vehicle for monopoly utility companies like Ameren, Empire Electric & KCP&L, which already operate on the very fringe of our capitalist free market economic system, to take more hard earned money out of Missourians' pockets. Even worse, this is for the same exact energy we receive today, they just want you and me to pay more for it.

This greed is even more infuriating considering just how good the utilities have it today. Consider Ameren Missouri, which:

Received an 11.66 percent profit in 2012, despite enjoying the monopoly benefits of zero economic competition.

Ameren Corporate's top five executives received over $11.4 million in non-salary bonuses and compensation in 2012 from ratepayers.

Has raised rates five of the last six years, a 43 percent increase.

Amassed huge corporate profits off Missouri customers, including over $400 million in 2012.

Already began charging a fuel surcharge on their customers' electric bills that have cost $384 million.

The truth is; these utilities could accomplish everything its shareholders desire under the current regulatory system that has long kept Missourians from being gouged by monopoly utilities. However, these new surcharges in the utilities legislation eliminate the few remaining consumer protections in law to give utilities an easier and more rapid way to raise our rates. …

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