Gov. Jay Nixon wants state lawmakers back at the Capitol a month early in hopes of persuading the Boeing Co. to land its new 777X jet plant in Missouri.
Nixon on Friday called a special legislative session to begin Monday in order to approve an economic incentives package that he said must be completed quickly before Boeing decides where to the build the new commercial airplane.
Missouri lawmakers convene the regular session Jan. 8, but Boeing said it started sending out requests for proposals last week. The company hopes to make a final decision early next year.
Calling a special session to consider the incentives allows the governor to limit the focus of what lawmakers can consider to only Boeing. Deferring it to the upcoming legislative session in January could create delays because the incentives would compete with other topics on the legislative agenda.
"Building this next-generation commercial aircraft in Missouri would create thousands of jobs across our state and secure our position as a hub for advanced aerospace manufacturing - and that's why I am committed to competing for and winning this project," Nixon said Friday in an emailed statement.
"In order to put forward a competitive proposal on this very aggressive timeline, decisive legislative action is required to add capacity to four of Missouri's existing economic development programs, which already include strict job creation and investment requirements, so that they can accommodate an aerospace project on this scale."
Boeing already employs about 15,000 people in Missouri, including thousands of machinists in the St. Louis region.
Any incentives Missouri offers could face stiff competition. Officials in Alabama, California, South Carolina, Texas and Utah are among those who have discussed trying to entice the company. Nixon met with Boeing executives last week in St. Louis and later issued a statement in which he said the meeting had been "extremely productive" and that his administration would work quickly and aggressively to submit a proposal.
Boeing initially offered to build its 777X in Washington state but sought concessions from union machinists. After the union rejected a proposed contract, Boeing started talks with other locations. Officials in Washington still plan to compete, and the state approved a package of tax breaks valued at $9 billion through 2040 during a November special session.
Missouri lawmakers in recent years have signed off on large state incentives packages aimed at specific industries.
It authorized $240 million of tax credits for Bombardier Aerospace to build passenger jets near Kansas City International Airport, but the company chose to manufacture them near its Montreal headquarters in Mirabel, Canada.
Two years later, Nixon called a special session to offer incentives to Ford Motor Co. to continue making vehicles in the Kansas City area. Missouri authorized up to $150 million of incentives over a decade for the automotive industry, and it has been used by Ford and General Motors Co. to expand production in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas.
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Gov. Jay Nixon today called a special session of the General Assembly to pass legislation to help the state win production of Boeing's next-generation commercial aircraft.
The special session will convene at 4 p.m. Monday. The state's response to Boeing's request for proposal are due by Dec. 10; legislative action is necessary for Missouri to submit a competitive proposal.
"Building this next-generation commercial aircraft in Missouri would create thousands of jobs across our state and secure our position as a hub for advanced aerospace manufacturing - and that's why I am committed to competing for and winning this project," Nixon said in a press release Friday. "In order to put forward a competitive proposal on this very aggressive timeline, decisive legislative action is required to add capacity to four of Missouri's existing economic development programs, which already include strict job creation and investment requirements, so that they can accommodate an aerospace project on this scale."
The state's proposal will seek to address Boeing's needs in worker training, infrastructure development and job creation incentives, the statement said. Nixon is asking legislators to add up to $150 million annually for large-scale aerospace projects under four of Missouri's existing economic development programs: Missouri Works, Missouri Works Training, Missouri BUILD, and the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act.
"It's important to note that these are the same targeted, fiscally responsible programs that are available to any company creating significant numbers of high-paying, family-supporting jobs," Nixon said in the statement. "This legislation will simply give us added capacity to compete for this type of massive aerospace project, while maintaining existing accountability measures and ensuring a positive return for taxpayers. Aerospace companies like Boeing, will have to invest and create jobs in order to earn these benefits."
More details in Saturday's News Tribune.