A proposed swap: pension reform for economic development collapses on the final day of the legislative session when the Senate and House fail to reach agreement; failure that places jobs at risk in Kansas City.
House leaders had been pushing the Senate to pick up and pass the Manufacturing Jobs Act, seen as crucial to keeping a production line from leaving the Ford Claycomo plant in Kansas City.
The Senate offered to approve the jobs bill if the House approved pension reform.
Senate Floor Leader Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) says the deal was struck when Governor Nixon promised to convene a blue ribbon committee to review tax credits.
“With that commitment, we decided to try to help with the Ford jobs in exchange for the savings that would pay for it through the pension plan,” Engler says.
The Senate took up the jobs bill. The House never took up the pension bill.
House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley says pension reform met too much resistance in the House to bring it to the floor during the last hour of the legislative session.
“There’s not a consensus in it. It really hadn’t been vetted to the level that we felt comfortable with vetting an issue such as that,” according to Tilley.
That leaves the state without the incentive it wants to keep Ford from looking elsewhere.
Still, Senate leader Charlie Shields has urged the Department of Economic Development to find alternatives.
“We have many economic development tools. They were looking to add one to that, but is there a way to look at what we’ve got in the tool bag right now and see if we can continue to assist to make that happen?” Shields says.
Ford primarily makes F-150 pick-ups at Claycomo, but it is pondering the future of another line that makes the Ford Escape.