Linking a bill to provide tax breaks so Ford keeps its Claycomo plant humming with an overhaul of the state worker pension plan irritates leaders in the House, who insist it isn’t necessary.

Rep. John Diehl (R-Town and Country) supports providing a $100 million incentive for Ford to maintain full production in Kansas City and he opposes the conditions placed on it in this special session.

“This bill is high-jacked with a different proposal,” according to Diehl.

Diehl says there’s enough evidence to conclude keeping Claycomo at capacity is in the best interest of the state. He further argues that changes made by the House put the Ford bill on solid financial ground. The House proposes folding the manufacturing incentives into the Quality Jobs program. The $15 million a year in auto manufacturing incentives could be taken from the Quality Jobs program which is already established and has its own appropriation.

“And you couple it with the fact that this clearly a net positive return on investment to the state, why is this linked to the pension bill?” Diehl asks.

The pension bill sponsor in the Senate, Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau), says not to blame him.

“The governor called the special session to take two items up,” Crowell tells the Missourinet. “I’m not voting for the Ford bill. I’m not voting for a give-away to bail out an auto industry. We saw the failure that was associated with that.”

Crowell insists he did not link the two measures. Senate leaders, though, have stated the House must approve the pension bill before it moves on the Ford bill. Crowell says that if the House approves overhauling the public pension plan, he will state his objections to the Ford bill, but will take no extraordinary measures, such as a filibuster, to stop it.

The Senate stance makes no sense to House Economic Development Committee Chairman Tim Flook, a Republican from Liberty, who knows the pension bill isn’t popular in the House.

“If we’re going to drag down manufacturing jobs over the pension, we’re hurting Missourians,” Flook says. “That is not good.”

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:20 MP3]