While members of Congress argue back and forth over an economic stimulus package, a bi-partisan effort is going on in Missouri’s Statehouse to get the local economy jump-started.
House Bill 191, sponsored by Rep. Tim Flook, R-Liberty, focuses mainly on creating jobs.
Gov. Jay Nixon promised to work with Republicans when he took office and indications were the same from House Speaker Ron Richard and Senate President Charlie Shields.
“Just weeks into the legislative session, I am pleased that the House has passed a significant job-creation bill with a strong, bi-partisan vote,” Nixon said in a statement released yesterday. “By expanding the successful Quality Jobs Program, we will make it easier for businesses across our state to create the high-paying jobs that will turn this economy around. I look forward to working with the Senate to meet the goal of signing a comprehensive jobs plan by the legislature’s March break.”
Part of the bill allows for tax credits for businesses that invest at least $1 million in expansion and create at least 25 new jobs. The bill also allows tax credits for even smaller businesses that increase payroll by 20 percent and provide at least 50 percent of health insurance premiums. Rep. Bob Nance, R-Excelsior Springs, said it’s not just about creating jobs, it is also about creating good jobs.
“We’ve got it targeted at everything,” he said. “Once again we’re making sure it’s a good job that has some quality aspects to it.”
Nixon campaigned on retaining manufacturing jobs in Missouri. The state has lost a considerable amount of manufacturing jobs in the last several years and forecasts look grim. Airplane manufacturer Bombardier just announced they are going to lay off 1,300 workers. Missouri courted the company for a move to the state last summer.
If passed, the bill would allow a 100 percent tax credit for state sales taxes paid on a vehicle purchased that was manufactured in Missouri. Nance said the House has unsuccessfully tried to get this part of the bill through the Senate for the last three years. He said the state is stepping in where the federal government should have. Missouri has three car manufacturing plants, including the Ford Claycomo Plant that produces the company’s F-Series Trucks. Nance said it does the federal government no good to subsidize the car industry if no one is buying cars.
“That’s something everybody supports,” Nance said. “The federal government could have done a real good job offering a tax credit for people who bought cars through out the country. We need people buying cars.”
The bill also tries to spur investment. The bill authorizes the state’s treasury to allocate up to $5 million a year in tax credits for “Angel” investors who pump money into Missouri businesses. The credit would be worth 30 percent of the investment, or 40 percent of the investment if the investment was made in a rural or distressed area. Up to $50,000 could be claimed as a credit. In addition business incubator credits increase from a maximum of $500,000 to $1 million.
Nance said incentives to create jobs in rural areas were included because the need for those jobs is recognized at the Statehouse.
“We want to create jobs throughout the state,” he said. “We don’t want to just create Kansas City and St. Louis jobs.”
The bill also expands the Quality Jobs Program by eliminating many of the caps placed on projects and increases the cap on job retention projects from $3 million to $30 million.
Nance said he is sure the bill will reach the governor’s desk, however he hopes some provisions that have not made it in the past do this time.
“This is going to be through the Senate. The question is, will they nix a couple of things?” he said. “That’s very possible, but they may have something they want to add. The basic part of this bill will move through with flying colors.”