Missouri Senate returns for special session

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Missouri Senate returned to Jefferson City this week for a special legislative session.

The governor called this special session just last week to ask the General Assembly for legislation to persuade Boeing to come to Missouri to build its new 777X commercial jet. The possibility of landing production came about quickly, and the short time frame stems from a Dec. 10 deadline request by Boeing for offers from interested states. Boeing already has orders placed for the twin-engine, wide body jet and wants to begin production as soon as possible to meet order deadlines.

Boeing originally planned to build the 777X in the state of Washington but the machinist union there rejected a new contract. As a result, Boeing sent requests for proposals to approximately 12 to 15 states with existing facilities and production, or that have the capability for new production. Boeing already builds military fighter jets in St. Louis and the existing facilities there could be expanded to accommodate production of the 777X.

The offer to Boeing takes the form of economic development programs and tax breaks they can use to defray some of the costs of building the jet. There are four existing Missouri job creation and work training programs in the proposal: Missouri Works, BUILD, State TIF, and Missouri Works Training. All four of the programs are performance-based meaning incentives are tied to job creation. This is the most important aspect of the bill -- Boeing will not receive any tax breaks or incentives until they have created at least 2,000 jobs. If the minimum 2,000 jobs are created, the state will realize a net benefit to our budget of over $265 million. If 8,000 jobs are created, the estimated number of jobs if Missouri lands the entire project, we will experience an almost $1.8 billion benefit to our budget. This does not even take into account increased business and additional jobs created by industries supplying Boeing. Some of those businesses are right here in the 29th Senate District.

Even with the potential for new jobs and positive impact on our state budget, I still had concerns about the bill, one being accountability. It was important to me that we protect the investment of our taxpayers and ensure the only outcome of this proposal is positive for our state. With this in mind, I supported an amendment to the bill that requires the state to determine after 10 years whether Boeing produced a "positive net fiscal benefit" to the state and take steps to recover any incentives if the benefit wasn't realized.

This means that Boeing must hold up their end of the bargain and if they don't, Missouri won't be stuck with the bill. There is no guarantee that Boeing will choose Missouri to produce the 777X and if they don't, Missouri will not be out one dime. This is a one time, take-it-or-leave-it opportunity for Boeing.

My position as your elected senator has always been to fight for a low tax policy that supports all business, especially our small businesses, and that leaves more money in the pockets of all hard-working Missourians. I firmly believe that our businesses and citizens can spend their money better than government. This was why I voted for a tax cut for all Missouri taxpayers and businesses earlier this year. You might remember this bill was vetoed by the governor over the summer and that he traveled the state claiming we couldn't afford a tax cut. It is surprising, then, that the governor now thinks the state can afford to offer Boeing a tax break. I hope he and other opponents of tax reform are now ready to update Missouri's tax code. Cutting taxes and letting businesses and individuals spend their own money is the best way to grow our economy and create jobs.

I don't like the idea of creating incentive packages for single companies, but I couldn't ignore the possibility of putting more people to work and helping out businesses in our own backyard in southwest Missouri. This is what we should do for every business in Missouri. We should lower their tax burden and let them put that money to use hiring new employees or investing in their business.

My hope is that when the Legislature convenes for the regular session in January, we will have honest discussion over how we can give Missourians the tax cut they deserve and get more people working again.

As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns about Missouri government. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: 573-751-1480; david.sater@senate.mo.gov; or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101.