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Nixon calls special session for automotive jobs act

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Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday called a special session of the General Assembly to consider an automotive manufacturing bill.

The Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act would allow qualified manufacturers or suppliers that bring next-generation production lines to Missouri to retain withholdings taxes that are typically remitted to the state, according to a news release from Nixon's office. Incentives would be triggered only after a company makes a firm commitment for the investment and workers are on the job, and total incentives would be capped at $15 million a year.

The bill's urgency is tied to movement by Ford Motor Co., which is finalizing decisions about companywide restructuring, according to the release. The company employs 3,700 workers at the Claycomo facility near Kansas City, and those workers are supported by a network of suppliers in Missouri communities such as Nixa and Columbia, the release said. Other states, including Michigan, have come forward with aggressive proposals to compete for those jobs.

“Automobile manufacturers and suppliers employ thousands of Missourians in every corner of the state, and it’s vital that Missouri remain a hub of automotive production for generations to come,” Nixon said in the release. “As America’s auto manufacturers reconfigure their operations to produce next-generation vehicles, it is absolutely critical that we are able to compete for the auto jobs of tomorrow."

Nixon, according to the release, is also asking legislators to approve reforms to the state pension system that would require future state employees to contribute 4 percent of their salary to the plan, not including the plans for teachers or school employees.

Statewide groups are split on the move.

Associated Industries of Missouri applauded the move, noting that similar legislation related to all manufacturers was one of its top economic development priorities in the 2010 legislative session.

"We fully support the Governor’s call for a special session to deal with a more targeted bill that focuses on the automotive manufacturing industry in Missouri," AIM President Ray McCarty said in an AIM news release, "and hope that passage of this bill will prove the program’s worth so it may be expanded in future sessions to apply to all manufacturers and their suppliers in the state.”

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also on board, calling Ford "an important part of the economic foundation of Kansas City and our state."

“The governor has made a good call to bring lawmakers back to Jefferson City to finish what they started and provide the tools needed for Ford, and other vital manufacturers in our state, to remain competitive and continue to provide Missouri jobs," Missouri Chamber President and CEO Dan Mehan said in a release.

Meanwhile, the Missouri Budget Project called the move "particularly concerning" due to its timing, coming just days after the governor announced another $300 million in cuts from the budget for fiscal 2011, which begins July 1.

"These proposals are particularly concerning as Ford Motor Company recently announced first quarter 2010 profits of $2.1 billion, while Missouri’s state employees remain the lowest paid in the nation and our state continues to face massive cuts to critical state programs,” Missouri Budget Project Executive Director Amy Blouin said in a news release. “It is irresponsible to continue devastating cuts to our state’s budget, and to consider expanding spending on tax credits."[[In-content Ad]]


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