Missouri Senate passes new tax credit to attract major sporting events

Thursday, January 31, 2013 | 5:59 p.m. CST; updated 10:36 a.m. CST, Friday, February 15, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate passed two bills Thursday meant to help lure big sporting events to the state and to reinstate tax credits to certain charities, ending a stalemate that had kept the chamber from backing any new tax credits in recent years and setting the stage for broader tax break measures.

Senators voted 28-4 for legislation that would reimburse sponsors of sporting events with $5 for every ticket sold to help cover the cost. The measure's sponsor, Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said it would help Missouri compete with other states for events such as the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament.

Tom Dempsey, Senate president pro tem, took the victory as a positive step toward eventually passing a larger economic development bill, which could create more incentives for certain businesses while paring back the amount of tax credits awarded to developers of low-income housing and historic buildings.

"The Senate is able to work through issues in economic development and other issues and be a productive, functional Senate," Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said Thursday after the tax credit package passed.

The Senate had been paralyzed the last few years over new incentives, but the logjam broke as term limits forced out many tax credit opponents last election. Still, three Republicans and one Democrat voted against the new sports incentive package.

A bill extending tax credits for donations to charitable organizations such as food pantries, crisis nurseries and pregnancy resource centers also passed the Senate 32-0 on Thursday. Some of those tax credits already had expired and others were in danger of ending this year. Senators had not renewed the benevolent programs previously because they became tied to failed efforts to scale back larger tax credit programs, such as the historic preservation and low-income housing programs.

"Getting that benevolent tax credit separated was an important step," said Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin.

Both bills now go to the House.

Richard and Dempsey both said the Senate is working on a larger tax credit package that would scale back existing programs.

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