December 7, 2013 in City

Missouri lawmakers pass plan for 777X

David A. Lieb Associated Press
 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri lawmakers gave final approval Friday to a plan offering up to $1.7 billion in incentives over more than two decades if Boeing agrees to assemble a passenger plane in the St. Louis area.

The incentives will be a key part of Missouri’s bid for the Boeing 777X jetliner in a competition featuring more than a dozen states.

The aerospace giant plans to announce a decision by early next year.

The Missouri House voted 127-20 to pass the legislation after a one-week special session called by Gov. Jay Nixon for the sole purpose of crafting a package for Boeing. The Senate passed the bill 23-8 on Wednesday.

Boeing Co. already makes military aircraft in the St. Louis area and employs about 15,000 people in Missouri.

A gain of 2,000 jobs – an amount associated with the production of the airplane’s wings – could result in an aggregate of $435 million of incentives by 2040. But if Boeing picks Missouri to assemble the full plane, the state could gain about 8,000 jobs, and Boeing could get $1.74 billion of incentives over that same period.

Besides the state incentives, Missouri’s offer also includes local aid from St. Louis-area governments, an agreement among community colleges to provide specialized training and a pledge by local construction unions to build the Boeing facility quickly by working around the clock without overtime pay.

Critics of the incentives largely kept quiet Friday. One lawmaker said he was filing a written objection asserting the bill violated the state constitution by directing taxpayer dollars to a private business. Others opposed the measure because it was tailored for a single corporation.

“Just because you’re big, doesn’t mean you should get to pay a lower tax rate than the hard-working small business owner,” said Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia.

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