UPDATE: The filibuster came to an end around 9:00 am Wednesday, almost 21 hours after it started. The Ford bill passed the Senate on a voice vote of 20-7 and is now headed to the House.
Senator Chuck Purgason has taken his fight against that automotive jobs tax incentive bill to the Senate floor and is engaged in what is likely to be a long debate. Purgason argues that the state is interfering with free enterprise by offering incentives to Ford that it does not offer small businesses statewide. Ford has indicated it will retool the present SUV assembly lines at the Claycomo plant and produce a new generation of vehicles there if the state give sit some incentives to offset retooling costs.
Purgason spent more than an hour discussing his position with another Senator, Lu Ann Ridgeway, who says she agrees philosophically on most issues with Purgason but cannot agree on his approach in the special session. As this entry is filed, Purgason has begun reading from e-mails to his office, books, and reports.
Backers of the incentives bill say it’s the key to reforming the state employees pension system so that the pension system stays financially viable and does not become the financial disaster to the state that pension programs have led to in other states. The House wants the Senate to approve the Ford bill. the Senate wants the House to approve the pension bill. The Ford bill has been amended to say it will not become effective if the pension reform bill is not enacted by lawmakers and signed by the governor.
Governor Nixon says failure of the legislature to pass the Ford bill this week endangers 3,000 jobs at Claycomo and thousands of other jobs in communities throughout the state where people make parts used at the Claycomo plant.
Senate leadership is confident the bill will pass when it comes to a vote after Purgason sits down.
Those wanting to listen to Purgason’s filibuster can hear it on the Missouri State Senate webpage