Nixon calls on Senate to pass jobs bill

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 | 4:59 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Jay Nixon called on Missouri senators to send a jobs-creation bill to his desk before the state loses out on any more potential contracts.

In a news conference Tuesday, the governor said that, with 261,000 Missourians out of work, now is not the time to lose a bidding war with Michigan over which state can offer a better incentives package to Kokam America Inc., a battery plant based in Lee's Summit. Nixon said the company's expansion would have brought 900 new jobs into the state.

But, according to Nixon, Kokam America took a more competitive package from Michigan Tuesday morning.

"Michigan was able to offer a larger package. Under Missouri's current incentives structure, we just couldn't approach that amount," he said, adding that if the Senate had passed the jobs-creation bill that passed weeks ago in the House, Missouri's offer would have been $24.2 million larger.

Nixon said a proposal sent to Kokam America had asterisks by numbers indicating that the proposal would be larger if the economic stimulus legislation passed.

"When you send an economic development package to somebody and two of your key numbers have asterisks next to them and they say, 'They could be that number, or they could be another number that's much bigger, but we have to wait to see what the legislature does before you see whether you get column A or column B,' that puts us at a competitive disadvantage. Companies look at the bottom line. They don't want asterisks on their bottom lines."

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, said it is "frustrating, ridiculous, embarrassing" that the Senate has been unable to pass legislation. "The governor has shown restraint in criticizing us," Griesheimer said, adding that the bill has come to the floor five times but has never come to a vote.

If approved, it would offer various tax credits to technology-based companies and to companies that create new jobs in the state. The measure has repeatedly been filibustered by Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, who said he wants all tax credits to be subject to appropriation by the legislature.

Nixon said that if the bill does not pass by the end of the current legislative session, he will likely call for a special session, but wants to see something in the coming weeks.

"We've got enough time. The point is, I'm not here to issue threats; I'm not here to say what I would do afterwards. I'm here to say we clearly have the time to put these measures on my desk, and let's get that done."

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