Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon calls special session for Boeing tax breaks

November 30, 2013

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is seeking tax breaks designed to attract thousands of Boeing jobs (Orlin Wagner/AP)

Missouri legislators will meet in a special session on Monday to consider a package of tax breaks aimed at luring tens of thousands of Boeing jobs to the state.

Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will ask legislators to approve a $150 million incentive package that includes extensions of several existing economic development programs. Nixon hopes the package will attract the thousands of jobs attached to the 777X program, newly up for grabs after a Machinists union in Washington State rejected the company’s long-term contract proposal earlier this month.

“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 statement.

Nixon’s proposal would extend programs called Missouri Works, Missouri Works Training, Missouri BUILD and the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act. The governor will also push community colleges to expand their aerospace and advanced manufacturing programs.

Missouri is one of a dozen states that received requests for proposals from Boeing after the Machinists’ vote earlier this month. Boeing had warned the union that rejecting the contract extension would free the company to begin looking for other sites to build the new line. Missouri already has about 15,000 Boeing employees. The 777 program, based in and around the Puget Sound area, supported about 56,000 jobs last year, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) office estimated.

Boeing has refused to list the states that were asked to submit RFPs. But California, South Carolina and Utah, all home to major Boeing outposts, are in the running, according to governor’s offices in those states. Boeing also employs more than 2,000 workers in Alabama, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Texas. About 83,000 of the company’s 170,000 employees reside in Washington.

The company has set a Dec. 10 deadline for bids, the Kansas City Star reported. Nixon wants the legislature to act within the week on the incentive package.

The aerospace giant has been slowly divesting itself from Washington in recent years, first moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago, then opening a major construction facility in North Charleston, S.C. Earlier this year, Boeing said it would move several hundred engineering jobs to Long Beach, Calif.

South Carolina may be Washington state’s biggest threat in the contest for Boeing jobs. The company recently bought 500 acres of land near its North Charleston facility and committed $1.2 billion in additional dollars. Utah, another strong contender, already has an 800,000-square foot Boeing facility up and operating.

Inslee is still pushing the Machinists to go back to the bargaining table, spokesman David Postman said in an e-mail. Before the union turned down the contract extension, the Washington legislature passed a package of incentives that included the largest tax breaks any state had ever offered to a corporation.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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