Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, Dec. 2, 2013
Legislature Meets in Special Session

Boeing is one of the largest aerospace manufacturers in the world. The company employs around 15,000 people in the St. Louis region, and supports countless other businesses around the state through its work with parts suppliers and distributors, including many in our area.

It is a highly reputable company with a long history in our state, stretching back to the days of McDonnell Douglas. It’s a key part of our manufacturing industry and a valuable corporate citizen to our state.

This is why the Legislature and the governor acted quickly upon learning last month that Boeing is currently accepting incentive proposals from various states, including Missouri, to help decide where to build its new airplane, the 777X. The deadline is Dec. 10.

Securing this deal is a historic opportunity for our state. It’s estimated it would result in around 8,000 direct jobs, and tens of thousands of indirect jobs all over Missouri. This doesn’t even include the revenue raised from those workers spending their money in our state’s economy and the support it’ll give to other local businesses.  

On Monday (12-2), the General Assembly met in a special session called by the governor to consider legislation to add $150 million a year total to four of our most successful incentive programs:  Missouri Works, Missouri Works Training, Missouri BUILD, and the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act.

These incentives are some of the most responsible we have, with a solid track record of returning a positive investment for taxpayers. The legislation also contains important safeguards that prevent any taxpayer money from being spent unless the jobs we’ve been promised are created.

The support for this effort is immense. Nearly everyone recognizes the importance of winning this deal. I have never seen so many diverse groups, from organized labor to higher education institutions, come together so quickly to support a proposal. It’s a testament to how enormous the benefits could be for our state.

The Senate gave final approval on Wednesday afternoon to Senate Bill 1, the legislation containing the incentive proposal. The bill now goes to the House for debate, where it will hopefully pass later this week.

There is no guarantee we will land this deal. Competition is fierce, and many states are doing what they can to lure Boeing to their area. However, doing nothing would guarantee us nothing, and that’s unacceptable. We have to try.

I’m proud of my colleagues for working together to get this measure quickly passed. It now awaits debate in the House. If approved without changes, it will go the governor. Since the bill has an emergency clause, it would take effect immediately after it was signed. Boeing will announce its decision sometime early next year.