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Governor Jay Nixon is touring the state to explain and promote Missouri’s new economic development bill, which was signed into law last week. On Wednesday, he stopped by Springfield’s Chamber of Commerce, where he signed a ceremonial copy of the bill. As KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports, the bill will go into effect later this year, but there’s still not a clear price tag on how much it will cost the state.
The governor has been eager to highlight the bill’s potential to create jobs. The legislation was Nixon’s top priority for the year, and was passed in the final hours of this year’s legislative session.
The new law expands several tax credits for businesses. It rewards those businesses that add new jobs which pay at least the average county wage and provide health care benefits. Nixon said the bill also invests in training the current and future workforce of Missouri.
“I am a huge believer that a strong and trained workforce is the key to transforming the economy for the future. We need workers that can hit the job running, hit the ground running. But we also need to work with companies directly when they need additional training for their workers,” Nixon said.The legislation increases the asset threshold of businesses that have to pay the franchise tax from $1 million to a new threshold of $10 million. This means that about three-quarters of the businesses that currently pay the franchise tax will no longer have to.
When asked what the entire economic development bill will cost the state, Nixon said he wasn’t sure, but he estimates between $25 to $35 million. There was no fiscal note completed in relation to this bill.
Nixon added, however, that he believes that the benefits from the bill will far outweigh the costs, and that Missouri can’t afford not to invest in such a program. “For example, the Quality Jobs Program. Sure we can afford it, because when you move that cap up, what you’re saying is that if you create a job that's above the county wage, and you provide health care in that job, then after one year, we'll give you a tax benefit, [to] a business for doing that. That's a bargain that has worked each year the Quality Jobs Bill has been in place. And we think moving that cap up will clearly, we can verifiably prove, that it will work," Nixon said.
As the governor signed the ceremonial copies in Springfield, he was flanked by both Republican and Democratic state legislators.
For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.