Jefferson City, Mo. – The special legislative session called by Governor Jay Nixon has begun, although most Missouri lawmakers skipped today's opening proceedings.
The real work won't begin until next week, when the House and Senate begin committee meetings. They'll be working on two issues: To give tax credits to Ford Motor Company's auto plant in Claycomo, near Kansas City, and to pay for them by requiring new state workers to pay into their own pension plans.
The proposal has its detractors, among them, State Representative Chris Kelly (D, Columbia).
"The legislature twice subsidized Ford in the Hazelwood operation, and then Ford left Hazelwood, didn't they?" Kelly said. "I don't want to just be paying for the moving vans...if Ford is asking Missouri to make a commitment to them; I'd like to see Ford make some commitment to Missouri, too."
Kelly also objects to a key provision of the pension bill, saying that setting up a new pension board could lead to corruption in state government. Meanwhile, Senate President Pro-tem Charlie Shields (R, St. Joseph) says debate over changes to the pension system could cause the special session to last for two or three weeks, instead of just one week as intended.
"Clearly they're tied together, the bill for the automobile industry as well as pension reform, we have to do both of those to make it work," Shields said. "We have to pay for the incentives for the automobile industry with the savings we get out of the pension bill."