Gov. Jay Nixon today called a special session of the General Assembly to pass legislation to support and strengthen Missouri’s automobile manufacturing and supplier industry. The session will convene at noon, Thursday, June 24.Nixon’s official call for special session [PDF]
“Automobile manufacturers and suppliers employ thousands of Missourians in every corner of the state, and it’s vital that Missouri remain a hub of automotive production for generations to come,” Nixon says. “As America’s auto manufacturers reconfigure their operations to produce next-generation vehicles, it is absolutely critical that we are able to compete for the auto jobs of tomorrow. The Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act will give us the ability to bring cutting-edge automotive jobs to our state, and I call on the General Assembly to send this important bill to my desk.”
The Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act would allow qualified manufacturing facilities or suppliers that bring next-generation production lines to Missouri to retain withholdings taxes typically remitted to the state. To be eligible for these incentives, manufacturers would be required to make a substantial capital investment in production capacity and put people to work. Incentives would be triggered only after a company had made a firm commitment for that investment and workers were on the job. Strict requirements would force a company to repay the incentives if that commitment were not upheld. The total amount of incentives available under the act would be capped at $15 million a year.
Passing the Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act has become increasingly important in recent weeks, he says. Ford Motor Co., which employs 3,700 workers at the Claycomo facility near Kansas City, is finalizing decisions about restructuring operations and locating production lines, Nixon reports. “Other states, including Michigan, have come forward with aggressive proposals to compete for those jobs. This legislation would help Missouri compete to bring next-generation vehicle production to the state.”
Nixon’s office says the Ford facility at Claycomo also supports a network of suppliers located in every corner of Missouri. Those suppliers employ thousands of additional workers, who produce such items as seats, wheels, steering wheels and other components. Suppliers are located in such communities as Columbia, Dexter, Farmington, Hannibal, Nixa, Perryville and Sedalia. “Relocation of jobs from the Ford facility from Kansas City would severely affect these suppliers and put Missourians out of work,” Nixon says.
“Economic incentives should be used to put Missourians to work and strengthen communities,” Nixon says. “Investing in the future of Missouri’s automotive industry meets that important standard, and it would provide a solid return on investment for the taxpayers of this state. But it’s important that we offset the costs of that investment to make sure we have government we can afford.”
Nixon also has asked the General Assembly to pass legislation to reform the state pension system, which would change retirement eligibility for future state employees and require them to contribute 4 percent of their salary to the state retirement plan. The changes would establish additional efficiencies and oversight to maximize investment returns for the retirement plan. The legislation will not affect the Public School Retirement System of Missouri or the Public Education Employee Retirement System of Missouri.
Automotive manufacturing is a $4 billion industry in Missouri, and automotive products represent 18 percent of Missouri’s exports, according to a 2009 report by the Missouri Automotive Jobs Task Force. Automotive industry suppliers, manufacturers and dealers are located in nearly every Missouri county, according to the Center for Automotive Research.