JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Jay Nixon called on Monday for a special session of the Missouri General Assembly to discuss job creation packages and tax credit reform.
In addition, recovery efforts and damage assessments for areas of the state affected by natural disasters will be reviewed. This session is scheduled to begin Sept. 6.
Nixon specified four major job creation priorities in a news release:
- construction of high-tech data centers
- enactment of the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act
- enactment of the Compete Missouri Initiative
- construction of an international cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
“Creating jobs and helping Missouri businesses grow is the top priority for my administration,” Nixon said in the release. “And we work tirelessly each and every day to do just that.”
This is not the first time that the construction of data centers has been brought up within the state. In 2007, a consultant hired by Regional Economic Development, Inc. in Columbia stated this region in particular was a prime location for data center construction.
In a session held last year, members of the House passed a bill that included tax incentives for data centers, but was vetoed by the Senate.
IBM opened a data center in Columbia in November after receiving millions in tax incentives.
Rep. John Cauthorn, R-Mexico, was pleased to hear the data centers were included.
“I think data centers are one of the most important things to look at concerning central Missouri,” Cauthorn said.
But not all legislators were satisfied with Nixon's priorities. Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said he was pleased data centers were included in the plan for the session, but disappointed the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant won't be addressed.
“There is nothing that we can do that will produce more jobs than the power plant,” Kelly said.
Plans by Ameren Missouri to expand the power plant were halted in 2009 and proposals to let the power company raise rates on customers to pay for it stalled during the spring's legislative session.
Other legislation Nixon listed has been brought to the General Assembly before. The Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act was introduced in both the Senate and the House, but died in both before voting occurred. This act would encourage the growth of science and innovation businesses, according to the release.
The Compete Missouri Initiative would provide additional incentives and benefits to foster and retain business growth across the state, according to the release. In addition, the bill would revise and update Missouri’s training programs.
“We’re one of the best states in the nation for business,” Nixon said in the release. “Passing this bipartisan jobs package will help us continue to move Missouri’s economy forward and create good jobs for folks all across our state.”
Nixon also included legislation for the construction of an international air cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Not only would the project create construction jobs, but also additional jobs once the hub is operational.
In order to pay for new job packages Nixon stressed the need for tax credit reform legislation.
"We must protect Missouri’s spotless AAA bond rating and keep the state’s fiscal house in order," Nixon said in the release. "That’s why comprehensive tax credit reform is essential."
The recovery efforts for communities affected by natural disasters such as Joplin, southeast Missouri, northwest Missouri, Sedalia, and St. Louis County will also be reviewed at the special session. Damage assessments must be updated before financing for recovery efforts can be determined, Nixon said.
“Our commitment to the communities affected by tornadoes, floods, and other disasters this year is clear: We will help you recover, and we will help you rebuild,” he said in the release.
Several other topics will also be discussed during the session:
- moving Missouri’s presidential primary to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March of each election year
- changing the body that governs the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
from a board of police commissioners to the City of St. Louis.
- authorizing tax credits to help attract amateur sporting events to the state.
“When you have a special session you want to be able to present something that is passable and something we can deal with in a short time,” Cauthorn said.