Missouri House approves tax credit bill for businesses

Thursday, February 5, 2009 | 6:23 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House of Representatives approved a job package backed by Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday that would remove a $6 million cap on state spending for the Quality Jobs Act, which provides tax credits for business expansion.

The bill also would create an act allowing small-business owners to retain Missouri withholding tax from the salary of any new jobs added to their payroll.

Legislative staff reported that it is unknown how much this will cost taxpayers in general revenue.

The House voted 141-19 in favor of the bill, which now must meet approval in the state Senate before being sent to Nixon.

Despite overwhelming support for the bill, its sponsor, state Rep. Tim Flook, R-Liberty, faced accusations that it did not contain enough democratic amendments.

The debate ended in an argument on the House floor between Flook and state Rep. John Burnett, D-Jackson County, in which Burnett claimed the bill was not a bipartisan effort.

"There were a lot of members of the minority really working hard on this bill to make it a good bill and get it passed," Flook said. "There were amendments (by Democrats) that were out of order, and there were amendments (by Democrats) that, quite frankly, went well beyond the scope of what we were trying to do."

But Burnett said Democrats had been shut out of the dialogue.

"What I'm saying is that you did not permit the minority to meaningfully participate in this debate," he said. "You simply shut us out, and for you to stand on this floor and say it is a bipartisan bill is not in any way accurate simply because there are a few minority amendments in this bill."

State Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, said Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt, R-Jackson County, blocked amendments that would have given oversight to the bill and amendments that included women and minorities.

"In order for these tax credits and these other economic stimuli to be meaningful, we need Democrats there to remind everyone that this ought to be for every Missourian, not just the corporate fat-cats who are standing in line for these credits," Roorda said.

Although opponents complained about a lack of bipartisanship, Democrats such as Minority Floor Leader Paul LeVota, D-Jackson County, expressed support for the legislation.

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