Missouri Republicans press for business tax breaks

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 | 12:54 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Republican leaders of the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate say they have reached a deal on a package of business incentives that could be considered during a special legislative session later this year.

House Speaker Steven Tilley and Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer planned to hold a series of news conferences Wednesday at airports in St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia to outline what they described as "a groundbreaking job creation plan."

Their events come a day before Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is to deliver what he is describing as a "major policy address relating to business development strategies."

The governor's office and lawmakers have been working — sometimes together, sometimes independently — since the legislative session ended in mid-May to craft a package that would create several new tax incentives targeted primarily at businesses while scaling back some of Missouri's existing tax credits.

The deal being touted Wednesday by legislators would authorize tax breaks intended to attract international cargo shippers to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. It also would create incentives for science and technology companies, computer-based data storage centers and big-time amateur sporting events.

In exchange, it would scale back the maximum amount of money that could be offered under some existing tax credits, including ones for the renovation of historic buildings and construction of low-income housing, and set a seven-year expiration date on the programs. The reductions in existing tax credits are projected to more than offset the creation of additional tax breaks. Some lawmakers estimated the savings could be around $1.5 billion over 15 years.

Republican legislative leaders want Nixon to call lawmakers into a special session in September to consider the package. If the governor does not do so, the state constitution also allows lawmakers to summon themselves into a special session, but that requires a petition signed by three-fourths of the members of both the House and Senate.

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