Republican Governor Eric Greitens tells Missourinet he will sign a bill which would give special electric rate deals to an aluminum plant and steel mill that want to open in southeast Missouri. The state Legislature has wrapped up a special session by sending the proposal to the governor.
Greitens, who has campaigned largely on bringing jobs to Missouri, says the measure will help create about 600 high-paying positions in the poverty-stricken bootheel region of New Madrid. The governor is considering June 5th for the official bill signing. The place is to be determined.
“This was a great victory for the people of Missouri,” says Greitens. “We now have the opportunity to bring a steel mill and hundreds of quality of jobs to southeast Missouri. The message here is really clear and that is the people of southeast Missouri stood up and they fought for this bill.”
Greitens led a heavy campaign in support of the measure by spending last weekend in the bootheel holding several rallies. An Army of about 250 supporters from the region traveled to Jefferson City this week to make some noise and plaster placards on the doors of some state Senators.
Will we see Greitens use this style again?
“We’re going to continue to do differently so that we get results for the people of Missouri,” says Greitens.
Greitens cites a Public Service Commission analysis about the impact the bill could have on Ameren ratepayers. If the steel mill and aluminum plant were operating, he says the analysis found no increase in electric rates for customers the first nine years. In the tenth year, customer rates would increase by a projected eight cents per month.
Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, says Ameren customers will be on the hook for the additional costs and there’s no guarantee the companies will open in Missouri.
“Yet because it’s an extraordinary session, as opposed to trying to move it forward with a lot of thoughtful input during regular session, we’re not going to create policy that I think is really good public policy,” says Schupp.
Sen. Bill Eigel, R-St. Charles, offered several amendments that all failed. He says he’s concerned that the legislature doesn’t seem to be concerned with subsidizing as much as $160 million annually.
Some opponents of the bill call it corporate welfare. Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, says that’s disingenuous.
“I actually put faces on this. There are faces. There are constituents both in the Senator from Butler’s district and my district that are extremely affected by this bill,” says Wallingford. “Families that had their dreams suddenly derailed.”
The bill as originally filed would have allowed the Public Service Commission to relax regulations of investor owned utilities to allow for modernization and upgrades to the power grid. That language was left out of the final draft passed by the General Assembly.
The original language was strongly opposed by Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, who carried the Senate version of the bill. Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, was the House sponsor.
The House bill passed earlier this week 120-17. Of the 17 dissenting votes, 9 were Republicans and 8 were Democrats. The measure passed in the Senate 24-5. The no votes were 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats.
Listen to Missourinet’s full interview with Governor Greitens: