St. Louis Public Radio News
8:22 pm
Tue June 29, 2010

Mo. House passes auto incentives, pension bills

Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri House has passed the two bills Governor Jay Nixon called for during the special legislative session. But the auto incentives bill contains an unrelated issue, and the state pensions bill differs from the version favored by the Missouri Senate.

The Senate pensions bill would create a new investment board for the state's pension system, which supporters say could provide a one-time savings of $150 million. But the version passed by the House doesn't include such a board. It was sponsored by Republican James Viebrock (R, Republic).

"I...feel like it's a new level of bureaucracy," Viebrock said. "I think in a time where we're trying to streamline government and we're trying to move things in a more conservative manner, adding new boards and new appointed positions and new salaries that go along with all of that, I just don't think now is the time."

The pension bill passed by the House would also require new state workers to contribute four percent of their pay to their pensions, but would allow them to qualify for pensions after five years of employment, instead of ten as some lawmakers had wanted.

Meanwhile, the bill to provide incentives to Ford Motor Company's Kansas City plant includes tax breaks for underground data storage centers. State Representative Tim Flook (R, Liberty) was the driving force behind the provision.

"Yes, it is outside the scope of the governor's call," Flook admitted at a news conference late Tuesday. "But if we raise that issue and people become aware of what's really going on and what it means for the state, then maybe this legislation can get a consensus it needs to either pass the Senate now, or become premier legislation in January for the next legislative body."

The House bill would also use tax credits from the Quality Jobs program to cover the cost of the automotive incentives, instead of relying on changes to the state's pension system.

Governor Nixon remains opposed to expanding the call of the special session to include other issues besides state pensions and automotive incentives.