State senators get a briefing this afternoon on the major economic development issue behind the special legislative session.
The economic development department will make its case for approval of the Aerotropolis tax credit program—$360-million in tax incentives for development of a major trade hub at Lambert-St. Louis airport. The department maintains the state will receive more taxes back than it will forego collecting if the incentives package is approved.
The contentious part of the deal is financing for a 400-thousand square-foot warehouse with 160 employees. While advocates see something that will generate a lot of money for the state, some senators see the whole project as a boondoggle benefiting a small group of developers.
One skeptical senator is Tim Green of St. Louis, who thinks backers of Aerotropolis are overlooking something important.
He doubts the state transportation department will have the money to build the roads required by the project, noting the department’s budget is about half of what it has been.
Senate leader Rob Mayer, a backer of the project, says the infrastructure won’t be needed for several years. By the time the development happens, he thinks, the money can be found.
The project faces some determined opposition. Mayer admits the deal that the governor thought had been struck in the legislature before he called the special session hasn’t held up.
Mayer hopes the senate can start debating the bill tomorrow.