One state legislator says, “In life there are no guarantees,” which explains why some lawmakers who have just finished the special legislative session remain uncertain they have saved thousands of automobile manufacturing jobs in Missouri.
Regardless of what happens, lawmakers want to correct those who think the automobile manufacturing jobs bill—the Ford bill–is a bailout. It’s not, they say. The state will not write any checks to Ford. They emphasize it’s an incentive bill that requires Ford to maintain thousands of jobs at its Claycomo plant before it can keep some of the withholding taxes from workers’ salaries.
House Speaker Ron Richard says this week was critical to Missouri’s chances to keeping full production at Claycomo. “I think if we hadn’t had something this week it would be gone, and it may be gone anyway,” he says.
Gone anyway? Too late despite the exhausting work schedule, especially in the senate? “I don’t know what message we’ve sent,” he says, especially since the incentive package failed two months ago and faced an opposition filibuster in the Senate.
For Richard, for other lawmakers, for state officials, and for thousands of workers at Claycomo and elsewhere in Missouri, a waiting period has begun. “We can’t control what Mr. Mulally is going to decide from Ford. We gave it our best shot.”
Some legislators say they’ve gotten unofficial word that Ford would retool production lines at Claycomo and produce a new line of vehicles there if Missouri approved the incentives. Ford has said nothing publicly.
At various times on the last day, legislative leaders held news conferences.
Speaker Ron Richard, Rep. Jim Viebrock (sponsor of the pension bill), and Jerry Nolte (House sponsor of the Ford bill) : House news conference 11:49 mp3
Senate floor leader Kevin Engler and President proTem Charlie Shields: senate leaders #1 6:29 mp3
Senate President proTem Charlie Shields and Majority Floor Leader Kevin Engler: senate leaders #2 4:58 mp3