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MO lawmakers consider tax break for buying hybrid

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By AP/KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri House lawmakers voted Monday to give Missourians a state income tax credit if they buy a hybrid car.

The tax credit would be equal to ten percent of the sticker price on the hybrid car, with a cap of $1,500.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. David Sater (R-Cassville), says the break would encourage Missourians to buy environmentally friendly car, but would also send a message to companies that make cars. "We want to show the automakers how serious Missouri is about being a friendly state for auto manufacturing," said Sater.

Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Harley Davidson make an assortment of pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, vans and motorcycles in six Missouri plants. The Claycomo Ford plant makes the Ford Escape Hybrid.

The measure needs one more vote in the House before going to the Senate. Researchers estimate the bill would cost the state about $136,000 of income tax revenue each year.

Hybrid cars use a combination of electric and gasoline engines. The bill have the credit expire in six years

An energy bill passed by Congress last year included almost $875 million in tax credits for hybrid vehicle purchases.

Aside from tax breaks for hybrid vehicles, lawmakers last month overwhelming approved a bill that would waive the state's 4.225% sales tax for all vehicle models built in Missouri. Supporters last month said that with Ford announcing plans to close its plant in Hazelwood, the Legislature needed to find ways to stem the tide of lost auto manufacturing jobs.

According to the Department of Economic Development, the Hazelwood plant directly and indirectly contributed more than 6,700 jobs and $23.2 million in tax revenue to the state.

Overall, Missouri's six vehicle plants employ 16,000 workers, create an additional 54,000 jobs, pay $236 million in state taxes and account for almost 3% of the state economy.

Rep. J.C. Kuessner said he doubted a hybrid tax credit would have a significant economic impact in Missouri. "I can't see the economic stimulus here because you're extending it to the companies no matter where they make the vehicles," said Kuessner (D-Eminence).

The hybrid tax credit bill is HB1092.

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