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With lawmakers gathered, details still foggy for Boeing deal


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With legislators gathered in the Capitol to consider offering a special tax incentive plan to Boeing Co., to attract a new manufacturing project, lawmakers are offering tentative support, but say the devil is in the details.

“I certainly support Missouri looking to become more business friendly and, of course, it’s very exciting to be part of this competitive bid,” House Speaker Tim Jones R-Eureka, told reporters. “But we still need to see this plan in detail in bill form before we can support it.”

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale
Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale

Gov. Jay Nixon called the legislature to a special session when Boeing announced it was looking for a new location to manufacture its newly announced 777X commercial airliner after negotiations to build the project broke down.

Missouri, which already manufactures the F-18 fighter jet for Boeing, will look to offer about $150 million annually in tax breaks to Boeing in exchange for the company brining approximately 9,000 permanent manufacturing jobs and potentially thousands of construction and supplier-side jobs as well.

However the details of the plan are still foggy. Nixon met with House and Senate Republicans today to provide more information and take questions. Lawmakers in both chambers say the meeting was helpful, but that some details remain a mystery until a bill is filed late Monday or Tuesday morning.

“Some things the governor wasn’t able to provide today are very important, like what the total cost of this entire package would be over the full length, and what the return on investment number is,” Jones says. “Those are two things my caucus is very curious about.”

While both the House and Senate will file bills, leadership in both chambers say that the senate will be the primary vehicle for the legislation. There, Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, is sponsoring the legislation. Schmitt Chairs the Senate committee on Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government. His committee will meet tomorrow on the legislation.

On Monday evening, Schmitt officially offered his bill in the senate, which would appropriate $150 million annually to Boeing for bringing the 777X project to Missouri. Some lawmakers are calling for offsets to pay for the credits, hoping to use the opportunity to pass tax credit reform as part of the measure. However, that effort is likely to struggle in the House, where support for tax credit reform among leadership remains lukewarm.

“This isn’t to say that I’m not interested in broad based tax relief for all Missourians,” Schmitt says. “But the governor’s call was to deal with this specific issue, and based on the information I’ve been presented, this is a real opportunity for us to help expand our state’s economy, and we have an obligation to explore that.”