With a voice vote, Missouri’s House gave first-round approval Thursday [April 7] to a measure that would provide a package of tax breaks to businesses developing an air-transport hub with China in St. Louis.
The measure would extend tax credits and other corporate tax breaks over a 16-year period. Legislative staff report it could cost a total of up to $480 million in lost taxes.
The bill’s sponsor is a rural mid-Missouri Republican who was asked why he supported a bill affecting St. Louis.
“This bill affects the entire state, not just the St. Louis area, not just any one area. It’s going to create demand for all of Missouri and their products and goods,” said Rep. Caleb Jones, R-California.
“The folks from my district are going to be able to load up cattle and drive to St. Louis and drop their cattle off and have them in China the next day,” Jones told his House colleagues during the House debate.
But the measure likely will face strong opposition in the Senate.
“The American economy is being rocked by a trade war that was started by China through their manipulation of their currency,” said Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, after hearing of the House vote.
“Does the state of Missouri really want to start spending state taxpayer dollars to continue those trade imbalances,” Crowell asked.
Crowell has been the leader in near filibusters to block extending business-development tax breaks arguing the state needs stronger assurances that tax breaks for business actually produce sufficient economic benefits.
The House bill was approved on a voice vote. It faces one more formal, roll-call vote before going to the Senate.
– Missouri Digital News