It appears one topic tops the priority list of all preparing to return to Jefferson City for another legislative session. It’s the same topic that topped legislative priority lists last session.

There’s no secret as to why this topic has risen to the top. The state remains in recession.

“Jobs. The bottom line is putting people to work,” Rep. Tim Flook (R-Liberty), chairman of the House Job Creation and Economic Development Committee, places it in perspective. “That is the most critical issue that we have faced the last several years and more so in the last year with the state of the national economy.”

Job creation was the top issue during the last legislative session, but times haven’t improved all that much, making it again the top priority for the session that begins next month.

Flook wants to stem the erosion of Missouri’s manufacturing base.

“Because in our manufacturing sector, we create the kind of multiplying effect, the kind of good jobs that we all really want, at all levels,” according to Flook, “people with a lot of education, people with vocational skills. We target multiple sectors of our economy.”

He worries a bit about the Ford Claycomo Plant in Kansas City. Scheduled to end the Ford Escape Hybrid line there, Ford could shift production of a new line to another plant in another state. Flook says officials from other states have been traveling to Detroit to lobby Ford to bring whatever product is next to their state. That could cost Claycomo a third shift. The plant primarily produces the F-150 pick-up. Flook says Missouri can’t afford to lose any more auto jobs.

Flook says he again will push the Missouri Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) during the upcoming session. Flook co-sponsored the measure last session. He will have an important ally in the next session. Governor Nixon has not just publicly endorsed MOSIRA, he has actively campaigned for it in appearances at the Lake of the Ozarks and both St. Louis and Kansas City.

Under MOSIRA, a portion of the taxes created by new growth would be funneled into a special fund to be used to attract bio-technology to the state. The money could be used in a variety of ways, but Flook says it likely would go toward paying for the infrastructure needed to help Life Science firms now located in Missouri grow and to attract new ones to move here. 

Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)