Missouri Senate Provides Insight Into Job/Tax Bill

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Senate held a second public meeting Thursday to explain the large jobs and tax credit reform bill that moved to the House last week.

Considered part of the special session, the bill aims to create performance-based tax incentive programs to help more Missourians get jobs. The bill would also require mandatory reviews or caps to reduce the amount of funding dedicated to tax credits annually.

Senate Leader Robert Mayer, R-Dexter, said Senate Bill 8 is estimated to save taxpayers up to $947 million over the next 15 years. But right now, he and the rest of legislators have to work out a few kinks, first by clearing up any confusion about the bills at the meeting.

"Well we're still working on trying to get the bill passed," Mayer said. "And this gives the general public, and House members, and Senate members, and whoever, the opportunity to come and listen to the details about the bill and understand why the Senate passed the provisions it did in the bill and why we think it's a good piece of legislation."

Mayer intends for part of the bill to include tax incentives for developers building an infrastructure with warehouses in the St. Louis area. He believes this will help attract a Chinese airline to base an air cargo hub nearby.

However this piece of legislation also attracted a Chinese art exhibit to be displayed in the capitol lobby. Art exhibitor Peng Su said she hopes the exhibit is influential during the special session.

"We are trying to raise awareness of the human rights abuse in China," Su said. "I think it's important for the general public, but also for very important for our state legislators, especially since they are talking about the China Hub issue. "

The exhibit features artwork that depicts the abuse still present in China today. As legislators discuss the possible addition of a Chinese hub in St. Louis, Su also hopes they will recognize the discord going on across the sea.

But as far as the bill is concerned, House representative Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, said not to expect anything final just yet.

"Senate Bill 8 is literally changing by the hour," he said. "I'm optimistic we get a good bill but I'm not going to commit to something until I actually get a chance to read it."  

The special session is supposed to end on Friday, but there is talk it may continue until this bill is decided upon.