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Mo. Senate Passes Boeing Incentives Bill; House May Hold Vote Friday

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio
Mo. Capitol

Governor Jay Nixon's (D) proposal to land production of Boeing's 777X passenger jet is two steps closer to success, as the Missouri Senate gave it both first-round and final approval Wednesday.

After Senate Bill 1 was perfected by voice vote, Senate leaders suspended the rules and conducted the official 3rd-read role-call vote, sending the bill to the Missouri House.  The reason why – to give Senators and their staff time to avoid a winter storm that's forecast to dump snow on portions of Missouri starting Thursday.  State Senator Eric Schmitt (R, Glendale) is the bill's sponsor.

"I think the impact could be enormous," Schmitt said.  "What we've been able to do here is work in a bipartisan fashion to move a proposal forward that can quite literally mean thousands of permanent jobs and tens of thousands of jobs related to the Boeing expansion, if it does come."

The incentives package would provide $150 million in tax breaks per year, totaling up to around $1.7 billion over 20 years.  

Following the vote, Governor Nixon issued the following statement:

"I thank members of the Senate for working quickly and efficiently to pass this bipartisan legislation that will put Missouri in a strong position to win the Boeing 777X and create thousands of new high-paying jobs across our state.  The overwhelming bipartisan support for this bill demonstrates once again that when it comes to transformative opportunities like this one, Missourians know how to work across party lines to move our state forward.  I look forward to working with the House to complete these important efforts in a timely and bipartisan manner."

However, eight Republican Senators voted "no."  Brad Lager (R, Savannah) represents a large rural district in northwest Missouri.  He says small business owners are being overlooked in favor of large corporations, and that Missouri's tax code needs to be reformed.

"I hope Boeing does come to Missouri," Lager said shortly before the final Senate vote.  "I hope we end up with 2,000, 4,000, 6,000, 8,000 jobs, whatever it is.  It's great that we're able to provide tax relief for Boeing...but what about the guy in Bethany, Missouri, who's a banker, who's still paying the full load?  Or the farmer down in Bolivar, Missouri, that is on two pensions from (the) government, but still thinks he needs a tax cut?"

Lager voted "no," along with Senators Dan Brown (R, Rolla), Ed Emery (R, Lamar), Will Kraus (R, Lee's Summit), John Lamping (R, Ladue), Brian Nieves (R, Washington, Mo.), Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph), and Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia).  Three Senators, Mike Cunningham (R, Rogersville), Jason Holsman (D, Kansas City), and Paul LeVota (D, Independence) did not vote.

Meanwhile, the Senate's Boeing bill will be heard Thursday by the House Economic Development Committee, and the full House is expected to debate the bill Friday.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.