Tue September 13, 2011
Mo. Senate scales back "Aerotropolis" credits, local control debate looms
Updated 9:39 a.m. Sept. 14
A smaller version of the wide-ranging tax credit bill received first-round approval Tuesday in the Missouri Senate. GOP Senate leaders realized there was not enough support within their own caucus for passing $360 million in air cargo incentives, not to mention a threatened filibuster.
So they removed $300 million in warehouse tax breaks from the Aerotropolis portion of the bill before endorsing it on a voice vote. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay was at the State Capitol Tuesday. He hopes the $300 million will be restored before final passage.
“In the end, if a bill is passed, it’s called Aerotropolis, but it doesn’t provide the necessary incentives to make this work, we’re not going to have an international trade hub in Missouri," Slay said. "And there are going to be a lot of jobs and economic opportunities, I think, that are going to be lost.”
But Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer says the Compete Missouri program within the bill contains incentives that will allow companies to build new warehouses near Lambert Airport. It needs one more vote by the full Senate before moving to the Missouri House.
The Senate also narrowly voted to preserve a tax credit for elderly and disabled Missourians who rent their homes.
The local control debate
The Missouri Senate could begin debate Wednesday on legislation that would restore local control of the St. Louis Police Department. The bill easily passed the House last week. The measure’s chief opponent, Democratic Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City says she’s awaiting the outcome of a vote over whether to change the leadership of the city’s Police Officers' Association before taking action:
“If the leadership changes, that’s pretty significant…if the leadership doesn’t change, then that shows you that it is true that the rank and file are interested in having some kind of compromise,” Chappelle-Nadal said.
Chappelle-Nadal says the police officers she’s talked to feel like they’re being pushed into accepting a compromise with the city, out of fear that they would get a worse deal from the local control ballot initiative being bankrolled by billionaire Rex Sinquefield.
The bill’s supporters say police pensions would be protected, and that officers hired before the takeover would still be able to move outside the city limits after 7 years on the force.