The jobs bill that has flown through the House appears to be headed for a battle in the state senate.
A handful of senators are questioning whether cutting the state’s tax revenue really does pay off in jobs. Tax credits let companies escape paying some of their taxes to the state. Presumably, that money is plowed into the business to create employment.
Expanding a tax credit program to help companies expand and hire more workers is a key part of the economic development bill. Senate sponsor David Pearce of Warrensburg says the original Quality Jobs law has created 22-thousand new jobs. But Cape Girardeau Senator Jason Crowell says the real figure is three-thousand.
Pearce says the proposed expansion of Quality Jobs could produce as many as 30-thousand new jobs. Crowell is incredulous. He tells Pearce, "That is such a…disingenuous statement…You have no idea…There is no empirical data whatsoever…that you’re going to create jobs."
Pearce says about twenty percent of the bill is aimed at small business—which Crowell says creates about 70 percent of new jobs. He attacks the bill for using 80 percent of its job-creation efforts on big businesses that only create 30 percent of the jobs.
Crowell also has attacked a provision giving tax breaks the owner of "a lot of old mines" be sales tax exempt when a Cape Girardeau bicycle shop is not. Pearce says that’s "a good question" for which he has no answer. He also cannot answer Crowell’s question about how many jobs would be created by the mine owner.
Crowell has introduced a more than a dozen amendments that could strip almost every tax credit out of the bill, setting the stage for a lengthy debate that could exert considerable pressure on Pearce to make major changes in the way the state would use tax credits for job creation.
The bill is a major priority of Governor Nixon and legislative leaders, who hope to finish work on it before lawmakers leave on their Spring break about three weeks from now.