Senate Committee approves economic development bill unanimously
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Senate Committee approves economic development bill unanimously

Date: August 27, 2007
By: Sarah D. Wire
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB1

JEFFERSON CITY - Religious community leaders, Missouri farmers and spokespeople from almost every major state sports team converged on the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Local Government committee Monday, asking legislators to approve a statewide tax break bill during the special session.

The economic proposal, a down-sized remnant of a bill the governor declined to sign into law, has four key parts:

* a quality jobs program that would bring higher paying jobs to low income areas

 * tax breaks for urban redevelopment- primarily in the St. Louis area

* a tax break for beef ranchers to encourage the industry to fatten cattle within the state

* the legalization of ticket scalping

Gov. Matt Blunt rejected the original proposal in July and called the legislature into a special session to reach a compromise on a pared down version of the bill, citing the high fiscal cost of the bill as being detrimental to the state.

While the majority of those who spoke at the committee hearing were in favor of the bill, Tom Kruckemeyer, Chief Economist of Missouri Budget Project said his analysis of the bill currently being considered showed the state would be unable to afford the tax breaks by 2010. He said the proposed bill is too broad and should be narrowed back to the original quality jobs program.

"You contribute to the continued erosion of the general revenue tax base," Cricketer said. "Look at the general tax revenue situation down the road, the state looks like beyond fiscal year 2008 the fiscal situation looks pretty bleak."

The urban redevelopment in St. Louis has raised many concerns because some say the bill gives tax breaks to only one person, a developer who has already bought land in the area.

Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said concerns that the tax break will make one man rich are unfounded because the St. Charles County developer Paul McKee is already very wealthy and is taking all the risk upon himself.

 St. Louis area community leaders said the plan is the smartest development plan for the area in 50 years.