CHICAGO — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has formally called for a special session of the General Assembly beginning on Sept. 6 and set an agenda that calls for passage of measures to promote job creation and tax-credit reforms.
Savings from the tax-credit reforms would help pay for the job creation package. Nixon is pressing for passage of various programs aimed at enticing job creation. They include the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act to encourage the growth of science and innovation businesses.
Another is the Compete Missouri Initiative, which provides incentives to lure and retain businesses. The package also would streamline and update Missouri's training programs and revise other state business development incentives.
The session's agenda also includes legislation aimed at bolstering the state's export and foreign trade business by developing an international air cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport using a $360 million tax credit. "Passing this bipartisan jobs package will help us continue to move Missouri's economy forward and create good jobs for folks all across our state," said Nixon, a Democrat.
He said tax-credit reform is needed to keep the state's finances stable. The package — crafted from recommendations by a bipartisan commission — would modify or eliminate many tax credit programs. "We must protect Missouri's spotless triple-A bond rating and keep the state's fiscal house in order. That's why comprehensive tax credit reform is essential." The agenda includes legislation to revamp state revenue department collections operations and authorize a tax amnesty in 2012.
Some elected officials had expected the agenda to include a financing package to pay for severe weather-related damage earlier this year, including the May 22 Joplin tornado, but Nixon said in his statement that damage assessments were still underway. He expects to forward an update on recovery costs later in the week but the final numbers may not be ready for the special session.
"Before we can determine the best method to finance our recovery obligations, we must determine the full extent of the damage. As we finalize our damage assessments along the Missouri River and in other communities, we will determine the most effective and comprehensive method to finance disaster recovery in every corner of Missouri," Nixon said.
The governor has said the state would provide up to $150 million in disaster aid by cutting other spending, though some lawmakers are pushing for the state to draw down its reserves. The Missouri Constitution allows the state to use half of its reserve fund for disasters, though it must be repaid in three years. The state has about $500 million in reserves.
Ahead of a recent refunding, all three major rating agencies affirmed the state's triple-A ratings on $487 million of outstanding general obligation debt and ratings of one notch lower on $609 million of appropriation-backed bonds.