JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) – Two days into the General Assembly’s special session, legislation aimed to lure Boeing’s newest factory to the state has cleared two major hurdles.
Senate and House Committees agreed to move forward with their versions of Gov. Jay Nixon’s bill that offers Boeing aircraft company more than $1 billion in tax breaks over the next 20 years.
The Senate bill passed with only two Senators opposing the measure. The House bill passed unanimously.
The two bills, which are identical, offer incentives if certain thresholds are met relating to job creation. At the most, Missouri would provide $150 million in incentives annually to Boeing if the company creates 8,000 jobs in the state.
The potential plant would be Boeing’s first commercial airline plant in Missouri. The company currently operates a plant which produces the F-18 fighter jet in suburban St. Louis.
Nixon Administration officials said the incentives would make Missouri competitive with the several other states who are working toward similar incentives to attract the company.
Sen. John Lamping, R-St. Louis County, voted against moving forward with the measure, saying Gov. Nixon’s plan had the potential to result in significant losses to taxpayers.
Lamping said he was in agreement with the only witness to speak in opposition to the measure, Carl Bearden of the conservative-leaning United for Missouri.
“I think you ought to do better for the citizens of Missouri,” Bearden said. “The way that you would do that is rearrange and reallocate existing tax credits, the caps and the funds that are there already, and push it into this one for $150 million.”
Union workers in the state of Washington rejected an offer from Boeing to modify its current labor contract in November, leading the company to announce it would be looking at other states to build the new plant, even after Washington passed an $8 billion incentive package.
South Carolina also recently issued $85 million in bonds to finance incentives to draw Boeing to expand its operations in the state. Boeing currently builds its 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston, S.C.
Competition aside, St. Louis County Executive Charles Dooley stressed the need for lawmakers to act on bringing the company to the St. Louis region.
“We need to put our best foot forward, keep good paying jobs in the St. Louis metropolitan area,” he said.
Lawmakers have until December 10 to pass the incentives.