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Missouri Lawmakers Move Forward On Tax Breaks For Boeing

Legislation that would provide tax breaks for Boeing to build its 777X passenger jet in Missouri was passed Tuesday night by two legislative committees.

First, the Missouri Senate Committee on Economic Development passed their version of the bill, followed a few hours later by the House Economic Development Committee passing its version.  There are no major differences in the two – both would provide $150 million in incentives to Boeing to build the 777X at its campus near Lambert Airport. 

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, a Democrat, testified that Boeing has a proven track record of creating jobs and fueling the economy.

"We're not talking about a fly-by-night company here," Slay told House committee members.  "We're talking about a company that knows what it's doing, that's going to be doing something really big, and I think that we owe it to the state and the people we represent to put our best foot forward and help make this happen."

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley told the committee that Boeing is going to build its new plane somewhere, and that it's "up to us to figure out where."

"The Boeing corporation impacts every facet of the state of Missouri," Dooley said. "Every Congressional district is impacted by the Boeing corporation through suppliers, whatever, they're impacted. It is imperative that we put our best foot forward. If you want to be in the game of job creation, you have to talk incentives or we're not in the game at all."

Former House Speaker pro tem, Carl Bearden, a Republican who now heads the group United for Missouri, was the lone opposition witness. He says he doesn't oppose the potential Boeing expansion, just the method in which Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is attempting to bring it about.

"You're here on such a monumental, transformational issue, that you have to decide in the course of just a few days, and you're doing it based on second and third-hand information," Bearden said.

Republican Senators John Lamping of Ladue and Will Kraus of Lee's Summit expressed the same reservations before voting against the bill last night. It passed 8-2 and now goes before the full Senate for debate. 

The House version of the bill passed without opposition and goes next before the Rules Committee.

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
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