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Mo. House endorses tax breaks for college sports events

Final Four basketball court, at the Edward Jones Dome.
Final Four basketball court, at the Edward Jones Dome.

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would create a tax credit designed to lure major college sporting events to the Show-Me State.

The bill is sponsored by State Representative Tim Jones (R, Eureka). He says the NCAA's Final Four in college basketball and other such events would bring much-needed tourism dollars to Missouri. And he says the tax credit would be awarded after the event, and only if it's financially successful.

"If you're going to vote against a bill like this that has very strict controls and is only going to award tax credits if you have a successful event and if it actually makes money for the state, then I'm going to argue (that) you're against economic development for the state as a whole," Jones said.

But opposition came from both sides of the aisle. Fellow Republican Tim Flook of Liberty chairs the House Economic Development Committee.

"We need to really focus our tax incentives on manufacturing growth, and science and technology, and what I call primary jobs, those jobs that give you the income so that you can go to an event or go to an entertainment district or eat at a restaurant," Flook said.

The bill needs one more House vote before moving over to the Missouri Senate. But its chances for passage there are slim, as a group of senators are opposing any new tax breaks while state revenues continue to decline.