The Missouri legislative session ended with a thud in May as the General Assembly failed to pass an economic development package that would have overhauled Missouri’s tax credit programs and created incentives to spur job growth.  On July 20, 2011, the Republican leadership of both the Missouri House and Senate announced a compromise on a comprehensive jobs bill and Gov. Jay Nixon signaled his support for such a deal the following day. On Monday, Gov. Nixon officially called for a special legislative session of the Missouri General Assembly to primarily focus on job creation.  Click below for more details.

On “extraordinary occasions,” the governor has the power under Art. IV, § 9 of the Missouri Constitution to call a special session by proclamation that specifically states which matters he deems necessary for the General Assembly to consider.  The Governor’s proclamation outlines the following agenda related to economic development for the special session:

  1. Tax Credit reform – The General Assembly will consider significant reforms Missouri’s 69 tax credit programs and determine which programs should be eliminated, be capped, and/or be sunset.  Key reforms will be enacted to Missouri’s historic tax credit program, which was previously capped at $120 million and will likely be further reduced.  The proclamation specifically exempts any changes to tax credits awarded for interest carrying costs for Paul McKee’s Land Assemblage Tax Credit, a controversial move which has already irked House and Senate Republican leadership.
  2. Aerotropolis - The General Assembly will consider a package of development incentives for the development of an international air cargo hub near Lambert-International Airport in St. Louis.  The current bill calls for a tax credit for air freight forwarders not to exceed $60 million over eight years and a real estate development tax credit not to exceed $300 million over sixteen years for eligible facilities located in “gateway zones”.  This bill has been criticized by the Kansas City Star and conservatives as a special interest bill of dubious value.  However, as noted in a recent editorial by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it is a gamble whose end game may mean more jobs for Missourians.
  3. Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) – This program would authorize the Missouri Technology Corporation to provide grants, loans and investments in science and innovation funded through the incremental growth in tax revenue generated by employees working at the targeted business.  The hope is that this will provide a catalyst to create high-paying science and technology jobs in the state.
  4. Compete Missouri Initiative – This program would streamline and consolidate Missouri’s business and workforce training incentives into a single program that targets specific industries for growth.
  5. Data Center Incentives – According to the New York Times, Missouri is an ideal location for data centers.  The proclamation calls for the creation of tax incentives for data center companies making a minimum capital investment of $37 million and creating at least 30 new jobs.
  6. Attracting amateur sporting events – Creates tax credits available to governmental and non-profit groups seeking to attract amateur sporting events to the state.

The special session will also consider bills regarding local control of the St. Louis police department, moving the Presidential Primary to March, and enacting administrative reforms for the Department of Revenue.

Economic development incentives have been crucial to spurring growth in the state and the omnibus bill that is passed in special session will no doubt change that landscape.  There will be significant opportunities for businesses, both large and small, to take advantage of these programs and we will keep you updated on the session’s progress.