A scaled-down version of an economic development bill approved by the legislature in regular session, but vetoed by the governor has won approval in a House committee.

Though is has been scaled down, this bill contains many tax breaks to lure business to the state or keep it here. The top priority for State Economic Development Director Greg Steinhoff, though, is raising the cap on his top economic development tool. The bill would raise the cap on the Missouri Quality Jobs Act from $12 million to $40 million.

Steinhoff tells the House committee that the state has hit the cap and needs more room to offer incentives to businesses. He says the state has reached agreement on deals that would bring more than 1,300 jobs to Missouri if the legislature lifts the Quality Jobs cap. Steinhoff says negotiations are underway with businesses that could create more than 6,000 jobs. He says his office has made proposals, but needs the added room to provide adequate incentives. Steinhoff says the state has about a 50% conversion rate on such offers.

The Economic Development Department also advocates the Enhance Enterprise Zone the bill would create. Steinhoff says thousands of jobs are pending approval of that program.

Few spoke to the committee in opposition of the HB1 . Most who did objected to one provision of the bill, the so-called land assemblage provision. Opponents contend that provision is a tax give-away to one developer, Paul McKee, who owns more than 500 vacant or deteriorated lots in north St. Louis. Opponents say the threshold should be lowered so more people could participate.

The bill will cost the state about $70 million dollars a year when fully implemented in two years. It will hit the House floor for debate Thursday.

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)