JEFFERSON CITY - The governor's plan to provide tax breaks for business development and a China hub in St. Louis ran into opposition before a Senate work group Tuesday.
Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, termed as "irresponsible" the proposed tax breaks approaching $500 million.
Much of the tax breaks in the package drafted by the governor's office and legislative leaders focus on development of an international trade hub project at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.
Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield, said the proposal is still a work in progress and a lot more debate is needed during the special legislative session which begins on Sept. 6. After the public session, Purgason and a few other senators also met behind closed doors.
Purgason chairs the Senate's Ways and Means Committee and sponsored the Senate's version of the China hub bill last year.
Purgason's plan that won Senate approval last spring, would tie tax breaks for China hub developers along with deep cuts in various tax credits awarded for a variety purposes including real estate development of historic buildings and rental costs by lower income elderly.
Purgason, one of the Senate's most outspoken budget hawks, has said that the savings in reducing tax credits was worth the cost of the China hub tax breaks.
Crowell since the state's budget is so tight, he doesn't think there is room for irrational spending.
Although Purgason's plan of combining China hub tax breaks with cuts in other tax credits won overwhelming from the Senate last spring, the Ways and Means Committee chair said Crowell was not the only member now expressing concerns about the latest tax break package.
"I think there's questions out there about how it works and how jobs will be created. I think there's a lot of questions that hopefully will be answered in the debate," said Purgason.
Proponents of the China hub argue it could bring as many as 15,000 jobs to the St. Louis area.
During the regular session, the House refused to accept the Senate's requirement to include reductions in other tax credits as part of a China hub package. The measure died on the last night of the legislative session as legislative leaders and the governor's staff tried to work out a compromise.
When Gov. Jay Nixon issued the formal call the special legislative session on Aug. 22, he cited this bill as a major reason.