Missouri lawmakers have one week to accomplish what everyone seemed to agree was the top priority entering this legislative session in January: a jobs bill.
Rep. Tim Flook (R-Liberty) has succeeded in pushing another economic development bill through the House, adding several elements to the bill.
"That would allow us to have more to conference on in the event we can get to a conference, get to an agreement with the Senate," Flook told House colleagues in introducing the latest version through the House, HCS SB 377 .
The problem has been that the House and Senate haven’t been able to negotiate anything. The Senate has never taken a vote on any of the economic development measures sent to it by the House. HB 191 passed the House February 5th with a 141-9 vote. A Senate committee rewrote the bill and moved it to the full Senate for debate. It stalled. Flook then reshaped SB 215 to include what he called a stripped-down version of economic development that contained the core elements of the jobs bill. The House passed it. The Senate neglected it.
Flook says HCS SB 377 contains tax credit reform and a $150 million a year cap in historic tax credits, which won’t sit well with preservationists.
"Whenever you change something that has been so easy to use, automatically the community using it feels like it’s under attack," Flook said. "That’s just not the case. It is a good program. We want a big program. We want one that really helps. It’s been good for Missouri in a lot of ways, but it has grown so large we have to, at some level, reprioritize so that we can do other things we want to do to help job creation."
Flook, during House floor debate, told colleagues he believes tax credits have mostly proven their worth as an investment with a return.
"It has never been lost on me the concern raised by different folks on both sides of the aisle about how far are we going and how well are these working," Flook said, "And it’s the right thing to do"
Flook said he holds out hope this latest approach will break through the resistance in the Senate and get a bill to the governor.