Jefferson City, MO — In the clearest sign yet that the State Senate is determined to become more productive this session, the Senate successfully read and passed a bill providing tax incentives for sporting events in the state of Missouri today. The bill — sponsored by Senator Eric Schmitt — would provide varied levels of tax incentives or tax reductions for sporting events and commissions that hold their events within the state of Missouri.
The credit will not exceed $5 per ticket sold at the event in question, according to the language of the bill, SB 10.
Schmitt said the $5 ticket number was “common sense,” and that the “lowball” calculation was that an individual tends to spent upwards of $100 at a major sporting event when factoring in the price of tickets, food and possibly hotel accommodations. Ideally, Schmitt said, the incentive could attract national sporting events like March Madness or an SEC championship game.
“This is how we create opportunities in our state,” Schmitt told The Missouri Times. “We make these smart, calculated investments.”
The bill requires the event to have chosen the state from several competitive bids, including bid out of the state. The legislation caps the incentives at three million dollars annually. Schmitt said on the floor that the state would not likely reach the cap in the first few years of its effectiveness.
Two amendments to the bill were offered, one requiring the site selection committee of such an event chooses between Missouri and another state before qualifying, and another lowering the cap to two million annually, instead of three.
Senator Brad Lager offered both amendments. The amendment lowering the cap was defeated by a 7-25 vote against, after Schmitt argued that such a cap was “arbitrary.”
“We can’t look at tax credits with a broad stroke,” Schmitt told The Missouri Times. “We’ve got to look at which programs can actually grow the state and benefit small businesses, and which credits are just costing us money.
Lager told the floor that his cap was based on “fiscal discipline.”
“We won’t spend more than two million in the first few years on this, so why not cap it?” Lager said to the floor. “This habit of unlimited tax credits, unlimited spending, spending like we’re drunk, it has to stop, and that’s why I offer this amendment.”
Schmitt said the credits have been in the works for several years, spanning more than one general assembly. He said many states passed similar legislation, making it harder for Missouri to compete for events.
“This is important, and it’s something we’ve done responsibly,” Schmitt said.
“And I’m certain we can grow the state with this kind of smart legislation.”
Collin Reischmanc an be reached by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @CReischman