JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An incentive package designed to attract thousands of new manufacturing jobs from Boeing Co. cleared its biggest hurdle today as lawmakers in the Senate passed the measure by a 23-8 vote, clearing the way for the bill to move into the House.
The bill, which would provide Boeing with up to $150 million annually in exchange for creating at least 2,000 new jobs, was expected to face its largest struggle in
the upper chamber. Sen. Eric Schmitt, who is sponsoring the senate legislation and who chairs the Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government committee which approved the bill, spent much of the morning negotiating with colleagues and rehashing the talking points on the floor of the senate.
“We are in a very competitive position,” Schmitt says. “This is an opportunity for us to become more attractive to a business that already works with us here in the state, and this plan is contingent on Boeing creating the jobs. If they don’t bring the jobs then they don’t get a dime.”
Some members, like Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah and Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, had philosophical disagreements with the bill, calling it “corporate welfare,” and demanding more restrictive language. Language was eventually added as an amendment, at the behest of Lager and Schaaf that would tighten the usage of TIF funds and require the state to examine the profitability of the entire package in 10 years.
Lager is one of the loudest voices in the Missouri legislature on the issue of tax credit reform, leaving some observers wondering whether he would join like-minded Republicans in attempting to kill a deal aimed at expanding state tax credits by up to $150 million annually.
“I believe every business in this state should keep more of their own money, not just this one company,” Lager says. “The private sector does know best. Although I personally am against it, this proposal will pass is my guess, and it will fly through the house. But this is still an issue on which there needs to be a dialogue.”
The bill highlighted philosophical tensions within the majority caucus about the purpose and value of tax credit programs. But with mounting pressure for an economic development deal from leadership on both sides of the aisle, Lager and other filibuster-prone Republicans mounted an opposition on the floor, but stopped short of torpedoing the bill entirely.
Following a suspension of senate rules, the body moved to complete debate and conduct a final vote on the bill in one day, effectively sending the legislation to the House, where most expect the bill to move with relatively little opposition.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.