JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri’s House Speaker says Governor Jay Nixon has submitted to the General Assembly a draft of legislation he wants it to consider in the special session he has called that will begin Monday. He has asked the legislature to approve raising caps on four economic development programs in an effort to get Boeing to build its next airliner in St. Louis County.
House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) says he and other lawmakers had asked Nixon to supply them with a blueprint to work with.
Jones tells Missourinet, “We told him that given the immediacy of the timeline, the short timeframe in which to consider this before the December 10 RFP deadline, the fact that he has been the one that has been in the direct negotiations with the Boeing upper management, that he is in the best position to lead on this issue and to describe to us how Missouri can be in the best place to be considered for this contract.”
Jones says he has only seen a draft of the proposal. He believes Nixon has agreed to meet with his caucus Monday afternoon before the special session begins.
“I need to have the Governor come and explain the entire opportunity to my caucus and why he needs this legislation in the first place,” Jones says.”
House Republicans were already scheduled to be at the Capitol Monday for a winter caucus.
The special session begins Monday afternoon at 4 and Missouri must have a proposal ready for Boeing by December 10. Asked whether that is enough time for legislative action, Jones says, “Mathematically there is probably enough time. Logistically that is going to yet be determined.”
Often each chamber of the legislature will address an issue with its own version of a bill. Both of those could then go through the respective chambers’ committee processes and be passed out of each chamber before differences are hammered out between the two versions.
Jones says the only chance for success before December 10 will be for one chamber to start out with a bill.
“We have not decided which chamber that’s going to begin in yet. That’s a discussion we are still having with Senate leadership.”
Jones says he hasn’t read the Governor’s call for a special session to see whether it is too narrow for other issues to be introduced, but he doesn’t want anything else to be introduced.
“Given the extremely compressed timeframe of … we’re talking a total of less than 10 calendar days, which is far less business days … for an extremely important multi-billion dollar opportunity, I think we should stay focused on the task at hand and the call at hand,” Jones says. “However I understand that with 196 other legislators who will be participating in this process it is probably safe to say that some of those individuals will want to raise other issues.”
Jones says it will be up to leadership in each chamber whether to agree to allow work on other things, but he reiterates he wants to stick to the Boeing incentive issue.
He says the State of Washington lost the 777x project because of its tax and labor policies and conflicts between Boeing and labor unions there. He says Missouri’s own policies will factor into whether it lands the project.
“There are some states being considered that are right-to-work states or that have better relationships with their unions. Other states that are being considered have better tax structures … We’re going to probably be in some pretty stiff competition with states that have good policies in those areas.”
Jones and other Republicans are questioning the Governor’s support of an incentive package to bring Boeing to Missouri after rejecting tax cut legislation that the General Assembly failed to override his veto of, in the veto session in September.
“Our Governor decided that he would veto a policy that would give a tax break to all Missouri families, farmers and small businesses. He didn’t feel that such a tax break was appropriate at that time so one of the questions that’s going to have to be answered is, ‘Why is a tax break for this project appropriate at this time?’”