COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – Aviation giant Boeing Co., which employs about 15,000 people in the St. Louis area, should be disqualified from receiving state tax incentives because it is doing business with a country designated as a state sponsor of terror, a Missouri state senator said this week.
Boeing benefited from a $1.7 billion incentive package the state Legislature approved in 2013 to lure production of a new commercial airliner in the state. Two years later, the company reached a deal with the state for $229 million in tax credits over 18 years to maintain and grow employment in Missouri, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
But Boeing shouldn’t receive any tax credits after agreeing to sell 80 passenger jets to Iran’s state-owned airline, said Sen. Eric Schmitt, a St. Louis County Republican.
Schmitt, who is running for state treasurer, spoke at Boone County Republican headquarters with former treasurer Sarah Steelman on Tuesday. He focused on the lifting of some international sanctions on Iran after the country’s nuclear deal with world powers.
“I don’t think any tax dollars should go to any company that does business with Iran,” Schmitt said. “That would be a natural consequence of opposing the Iran deal.”
Both Boeing and European airplane manufacturer Airbus announced this week separate $25-billion deals to sell aircraft to airlines in the country, although analysts are skeptical that there is demand for so many jets or available financing. The deal would be the biggest for an American company since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and U.S. Embassy takeover.
Under Boeing’s deal, Iran Air will buy 80 aircraft with a total list price of $17.6 billion, with deliveries beginning in 2017 and running until 2025. Iran Air also will lease 29 new Boeing 737s.
Boeing spokesman Marc Sklar said in a statement this week that Boeing remains in talks with Iran Air based on the memorandum of agreement reached in June.
Schmitt is running against former state Rep. Judy Baker of Columbia, the Democratic nominee, and Sean O’Toole of the Libertarian Party.
The state treasurer’s office already has a policy barring investments with companies that have ties to terrorism or terrorist companies, Baker said.
“It is quite simple,” she said. “I would like to keep Boeing’s jobs in Missouri, and I don’t think my opponent understands what the state treasurer does.”
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