Incentives for Ford to keep its factory in Kansas City running at full capacity and an overhaul of the state worker pension system cleared the House and have moved to an uncertain reception in the Senate on the first full day of this special legislative session.
The Ford Motor Company could receive tax breaks totaling $100 million at its Claycomo plant under an auto manufacturing bill (HB 2) approved by the House. Sponsor Jerry Nolte, a Republican from Gladstone, has high hopes the Senate will be receptive.
“It’s in all of our best interest, and that includes the Senate, to get a jobs creation and retention bill passed. That’s what the people expect,” Nolte told reporters afterward. “I don’t think we dare walk out of this chamber a second time without passing a bill of this sort and I would strongly urge the Senate to take up it up and pass it.”
That’s very much in question, especially since the House added tax breaks for data storage centers and an extension of the Homestead Preservation Tax Credit to the bill. The governor’s office insists the House bill rests on shaky legal grounds, because it exceeds the special session call issued by Governor Nixon. Nevertheless, House leaders said that want the Senate to consider how best to lure data centers to Missouri, claiming that is an industry set to explode and the state has much to offer it. They also insist that Governor Nixon could expand his call to include both the data centers and the tax break for older homeowners.
HB 1, a pension overhaul bill, has been approved without an independent investment board as proposed by the Senate sponsor.
The House sponsor is Jim Viebrock, a Republican from Republic.
“The House members that I have been visiting with are pretty much overwhelmingly opposed to the creation of a new board,” Viebrock said. “I personally, also, am opposed to that.”
Viebrock explained that the House believed creating a new board would be a waste of resources. The pension bill would apply to only to state workers hired after the first of the year eligible to join MOSERS and MPERS. The House approved an amendment to lower the time needed for state workers to be vested in the plan from ten years to five.
A Senate committee will hear the bill on Wednesday prior to the Senate’s full session on Thursday. Viebrock said he didn’t want to speculate on what reception the House version might get before he presents it in committee and explains to senators the HB 1.