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Gov. Blunt signs economic development bill

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

9/4/07 – Missouri Governor Matt Blunt has signed the economic development bill into law.

It provides nearly $66 million in tax credits, which is much less than the $200 million-dollar bill Blunt vetoed in July.

The new law includes tax credits for developers, cattle growers, film makers and other entrepreneurs, and legalizes ticket scalping in Missouri.

It also expands the amount of tax breaks in Governor Blunt's Quality Jobs program from 12 million to 40 million dollars.

"Under this legislation, companies still only qualify if they pay at least the average wage and provide health coverage to their employees," Blunt said.

The bill was opposed by the Missouri Budget Project. Tom Kruckemeyer, the group's Chief Economist, says the new law could potentially damage the state's tax base.

"Corporate taxes in Missouri are already extremely low, and it's not clear to me that the state needs to do a lot to improve its business climate in terms of having lower corporate taxes or additional tax credit programs," Kruckemeyer said.

The Quality Jobs program is the only part of the bill the Missouri Budget Project favored.

Some St. Louis-area lawmakers voted against the new law because it provides land assemblage tax credits that will largely benefit one developer.

Paul McKee owns several parcel of land on the near north side of St. Louis, and has yet to announce what he'll do with them.

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