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MO Special Session: Special Problems For State Employees?

June 24, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. - Missouri's special legislative session begins today, during which state lawmakers will consider a bill that would expand spending on tax incentives for Ford Motor Company by $15 million per year for ten years. Critics oppose the measure, in large part, because the package would be paid for by cutting retirement benefits for state employees.

Amy Blouin, executive director of the Missouri Budget Project, opposes the proposal, arguing the state has other options to balance the budget and help businesses and people at the same time. They include closing tax loopholes and updating the state's tax structure to include new revenue from online purchases, she says.

"We can look to different revenue solutions that could fund not only the critical core services we need in Missouri, but also some tax incentives to keep businesses in Missouri and functioning well."

Ford is deciding where to manufacture its next generation of vehicles. Currently, trucks and sport utilities are made at the Claycomo plant in suburban Kansas City. The governor called the special session once he had bipartisan support. A similar bill failed to pass during the regular legislative session.

Gov. Nixon also recently announced an additional $300 million in budget cuts for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Blouin says these cuts to the state budget would mean a cut in jobs in the public and private sectors, which would contribute to Missouri's already high level of unemployment.

"We have to start understanding that every time we make a budget cut, we're diminishing our economy. "

The cuts are in addition to the $650 million in cuts already made for fiscal year 2011. Typically, tax incentives are provided to primary employers such as Ford in order to grow jobs and the tax base by encourage economic development.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO