House leaders say they know they are pushing a jobs bill that exceeds the special session call issued by Governor Nixon. Still, they say they’re making the push, because they want to raise awareness about a potential future area of economic development.
The House sponsor of the manufacturing bill, popularly known as the Ford bill, Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone) says combining incentives for manufacturers and computer data storage centers isn’t as far-fetched as some might believe.
“During regular session, the Manufacturing Jobs Act and the data center legislation were in fact linked together in amendment form and was voted on twice as a package,” Nolte says.
There is one big distinction says House Economic Development Committee Chairman Tim Flook, a Republican from Liberty. The manufacturing incentives seek to keep a traditional employer, Ford Motor Company, at full production in Kansas City. The data center tax breaks seek to cultivate an emerging industry.
“We want to be in a position like Seattle, Washington was in the early 1980s,” Flook says. “They went after computer programming. We’re going after data storage. We’ve a lot of great locations and we’ve got a fantastic opportunity developing in Columbia.”
Flook says Missouri is attractive to companies seeking storage for the computer data, because it has relatively cheap energy and plenty of climate-controlled storage, especially its network of cave warehouses.
HB 2 also includes an extension of the Homestead Preservation Act, a property tax break for older homeowners. It has stalled in the Senate after being assigned to the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight. Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Purgason, a Republican from Caulfield and a candidate for U.S. Senate, has threatened to kill the bill.
Flook says the data center addition isn’t a deal-breaker. He says if the Senate won’t go along or the governor refuses to expand the special session call, the House will drop the issue to get the Ford bill passed.