JEFFERSON CITY - The governor's plan to provide incentives to state businesses met little opposition from witnesses at a House committee hearing Wednesday.
The House Job Creation and Economic Development Committee heard testimony of advocates for and against the legislation and the effective start of formal debate of the bill.
Proponents of the legislation, which would establish the Missouri Business First Act and provide tax credits, said the bill would create jobs and encourage loyalty among Missouri businesses.
Economic Development Department director David Kerr said the measure would be an important aspect of economic recovery for the state.
"We want to make sure that we make Missouri businesses feel like they are a valued part of our state and our community," Kerr said. "This is one way that we can do that."
A number of local chambers of commerce and prominent state business associations also spoke in favor of the legislation.
Bruce Hillis, the director of an advocacy group called Missouri First Inc., testified against the bill and said it would compromise free-market principles. Missouri First Inc. shares the name of the governor's initiative only by coincidence.
Hillis said the legislation would cause a "race to the bottom" among Missouri businesses.
The House jobs committee will reconvene next week to continue its deliberations.