Everyone at the Capitol seems to have tax credits in the cross hairs, with one important exception. House leadership isn’t ready to scrap the state’s myriad of tax credits.

In fact, House leadership reacted sharply to Governor Nixon’s call to scale back tax credits.

“Are we willing to discuss about tax credit reform? Absolutely, but based on facts, not emotion,” responded House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley, a Republican from Perryville.

Tilley said that it’s a little late in the session for the governor to hold a news conference with educators claiming that tax credits hamper the state’s ability to fund schools. House leadership held a news conference in the House lounge shortly after the governor spoke. Beginning Monday, there will be three weeks left in this legislative session.

Republican John Diehl of Town and Country accuses Nixon of sending mixed messages.

“Businesses want certainty, they want a clear message from the state that Missouri is open for business,” Diehl said. “And what we’re doing is an abrupt U-turn that’s going to drive up into a ditch.”

Diehl pointed out that Nixon has had two economic development directors in his two years in office. Diehl and other leaders also point to economic development bills the governor has backed that contain tax credits.

House Speaker Ron Richard (R-Joplin) insisted tax credits serve a purpose; from helping fund domestic violence shelters to helping parents adopt special needs children. They also are the state’s primary means to lure business here.

“Tax credits are what we have to compete with, because of our tax structure,” Richard stated. “Now, if we want to change all that, change our tax structure, it takes longer than three weeks.”

Richard complained the House has been left out of the discussion, claiming that it has been two against one; Governor Nixon and the Senate against the House.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]

AUDIO: House leadership tax credit news conference [23 min MP3]