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Lawmakers send Boeing deal to Nixon

  

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — A tax credit package that would give Boeing Co. $150 million annually to build their 777X commercial airliner in Missouri was approved by the Missouri House of Representatives today despite a last-minute clerical error that threatened to derail the package before it reaches Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk.

A drafting error created two versions of the package lawmakers have been working on all week. In a flurry of activity, leadership from both chambers met with members of the clerk’s office and legal counsel off and on for more than 90 minutes to find a solution to the discrepancy that would not require either chamber to repeat their work.

Gov. Jay Nixon
Gov. Jay Nixon

Majority Floor Leader John Diehl, R-DISTRICT, told members on the floor that these kinds of errors “happen pretty frequently.” The error came in an amendment, where some of the language added in the senate was dropped from the House bill.

Missouri is in competition with more than a dozen other states to win Boeing’s new manufacturing project, which would create at least 2,500 jobs over the next two years. The deal, which created some rifts along philosophical lines among Republican lawmakers, cleared its biggest hurdle midweek when it survived floor debate in the senate largely unscathed.

“The ball is now in governor Nixon’s court,” House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, told reporters. “We’ve provided him with all the tools he requested of us, and now it goes back to him to try to finish this.

Jones and Diehl both brushed off concerns that the last-minute clerical error and resulting fix could leave the incentive package open to legal challenges. Jones said he was “totally confident,” in the legality of the move, and said such moves are common during regular session. Privately, however, lawmakers expressed trepidation to The Missouri Times about the certainty of the fix.

The bill cleared the House easily by a margin of 127-20 with bipartisan support. Earlier this week it moved through the senate 23-8, with both parties supporting the measure. Leadership in both chambers declined to comment on the likelihood of Boeing accepting Missouri’s bid out of more than a dozen others, saying that now the decision was largely out of their hands.

The bill should arrive Nixon’s desk sometime today. Nixon and the state have until the end of business on December 10 to submit the plan to Boeing for consideration.