JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) –  Missouri lawmakers neared their mandatory adjournment Friday with a proposed overhaul of the state’s economic incentive programs still unresolved.

The tax break package would end or reduce many of the state’s existing incentives for businesses, developers and residents while authorizing new incentives intended to attract international cargo shippers to the St. Louis airport, new science and technology companies to the state and big-time amateur sporting events to arenas and fields around the state.

Some House and Senate members negotiated from Thursday into early Friday morning, but still had not settled differences over how greatly to curtail existing incentives in exchange for the creation of new ones.

Lawmakers face a 6 p.m. Friday adjournment deadline set by the state constitution.

Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer said he would like to see the tax incentive bill pass.

“But I hold out little hope that that’s going to happen,” he said.

The fate of a bill granting St. Louis control over its police department — which has been run since the Civil War era by a board with gubernatorial appointees — also appeared linked to the economic development bill.

The Senate was holding up a vote on the police bill, which is backed by House leaders, as leverage in its negotiations over the economic incentives legislation.

Several costly bills also remained unresolved, including one reauthorizing taxes on health care providers that help generate about $3 billion annually for the state’s Medicaid program.

Another lingering bill would renew a roughly $20 million state program that helps pay the prescription drug costs of about 226,000 low-income seniors and disabled residents covered by the federal Medicare program.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press


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