A huge sigh of relief came out of Jefferson City this week as we finished work on the state budget. While not everyone, including myself, was entirely happy with the way things finished, we have to do with less these days. Our state revenue numbers continue to be anemic, but we have seen some positive signs that things may be rebounding.
Because of the rough environment, we have continued to maintain job creation as our main focus. The fastest and perhaps only way we are going to get our economy rolling again is when more Missourians find work. I think it’s also important that not only do we advocate for new jobs or business expansions, but that the jobs we create are good family supporting jobs.
In addition to passing the budget this week we took up two different bills that focused specifically on creating family supporting jobs. The first, SB 773, was a proposal we were able to use as a legislative vehicle for a manufacturing jobs act. Under the manufacturing proposal the state would provide incentives to manufacturing based companies that add new jobs, pay salaries at or above the industry average wage, and offer to pay for 50% of a healthcare package for the employee. These are exactly the type of jobs we should welcome in Missouri because they can support a family and we have been told Ford Motor Company will most likely use this proposal to expand their plant in Claycomo, Missouri.
The second proposal, SB 928, helped create jobs in another way. In SB 928 existing businesses were protected from a court decision that would have started taxing goods that government’s or municipalities purchase. In the past these items have been exempted because often times they are very large purchases. The best examples we heard were the airplanes and fighter jets that Boeing builds in St. Louis. If SB 928 wasn’t signed Boeing would have had to scale back production in St. Louis or look for doing any future expansions somewhere else. We need the type of jobs that Boeing provides. The men and woman who work at that manufacturing facility are highly trained and educated people that mean a great deal not only to our state, but also to our country.
There are just two more weeks of the legislative session left and finishing the budget was a big accomplishment, despite some tough decisions. As we proceed into the last two weeks of the legislative session we will continue to keep our focus on jobs, but there will be several things we can still accomplish to make state government more responsible, more transparent, more accountable, and more efficient.