Lawmakers to Decide on Boeing Breaks

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri lawmakers could give preliminary approval to a tax incentive package for Boeing Wednesday.

Gov. Jay Nixon called lawmakers back for a special session this week to prepare a tax incentive package for Boeing. After the company failed to come to an agreement with labor unions in the the Seattle area, it is looking for somewhere to build a plant to manufacture the 777x, its newest commercial plane.

House and Senate economic development committees backed a plan Tuesday night to authorize up to $150 million annually in state tax incentives for Boeing. Now, The House and Senate can both debate the plan in full chamber sessions Wednesday.

The proposal passed out of the committees after Nixon's administration released a cost-benefit analysis for the plan.

When lawmakers returned to Jefferson City Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon said he had "productive conversations" with members of both parties in closed-door caucus meetings.

However, some lawmakers wanted more specifics on the plan from Nixon's administration before making any decisions in this week's special session.

Nixon released the details Tuesday afternoon, saying he wanted to combine the use of four state tax incentive programs for the Boeing package.

The amount of incentives would depend on how many jobs the company can create.

For example, if Boeing creates 2,000 jobs, Nixon's staff estimates the company would get more than $435 million in tax breaks over a 23-year period. That goes up to more than $1.7 billion if Boeing creates 8,000 jobs.

Two Republican senators voted against the plan in the Senate committee Tuesday night. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Sen. John Lamping, R-St. Louis County and Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee's Summit, voted no on the plan because the state is not planning to reduce authorizations of other tax credits to make the proposal revenue neutral.

Some fiscally conservative Republican senators opposed large tax incentive proposals in special sessions in 2010 and 2011 for the same reason.

Carl Bearden of United for Missouri testified against the bill in the Senate committee hearing. The Post-Dispatch reported the legislature was being asked "to make this huge decision based on very little information in a very short period of time."

The legislature faces a Dec. 10 deadline to get its plan to Boeing.