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Lawmakers Push to Give Joplin $17M To Offset Tornado Effects

Miica Patterson
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Getty/Scott Olson

Getty/Scott Olson

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (MDN) — Republicans in the state capitol are pushing to give Joplin more aid to help rebuild from the 2011 tornado that swept through the city.

The House Economic Development Committee voted 21-0 Thursday to move legislation to the full chamber that would give Joplin access to state funds for rebuilding.

The bill doesn’t specifically address Joplin. But it would allow half of Missouri’s revenue from new jobs and new sales taxes each year to fund tax increment financing districts in disaster areas around the state.

“Joplin is already getting about $42 million from a local TIF district that lasts 23 years but the additional state revenue would bring in about $17 million over the next two decades,” said Brian Head, Joplin’s city attorney.

“It’s an additional tool we would like to have to rebuild,” Head said.

Head said cities must apply to receive state money for their tax increment district and this can only be done if the U.S. president declares a large portion of the city a disaster area.

Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, is sponsoring the Senate’s version of this bill which was heard by a legislative committee last week.

A tornado of more than 200 mph hit the Joplin area on May 22, 2011 resulting in 158 deaths and over 1,000 people injured according to the National Weather Service. The tornado is ranked seventh among the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history.

Head said some of Joplin’s greatest redevelopment needs are streets, roads and bridges. The city’s biggest development project are the rebuilding of a public library and movie theater along 20th Street, in the southern part of the city. Head said these are just a few of city’s redevelopment projects that total $800 million.

Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, supported the bill but said it couldn’t be called perfect.

“It may not be perfect. I’m sure it’s not perfect,” said Engler but also said most bills aren’t perfect.

David Stokes, a policy analyst with the conservative Show Me Institute said the group usually doesn’t support local tax increment financing districts but said that Joplin is a special case. He said normally these local districts don’t help grow the economy and they are generally bad for Missouri.

“It may be necessary for Joplin,” Stokes said.

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