MISSOURI LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TAX CREDITS
State tax credit programs generate multi-millions of private sector
investment dollars that would not have occurred without the public
subsidy stimulus. Historic preservation tax credits, brownfield
tax credits and distressed communities tax credits are vital to
the revitalization of our central core. Historic tax credits
greatly assist and leverage private investment in the rebuilding
and renovation of historic properties. Without historic tax credits,
Cupples Station, the Chase Park Plaza, and Washington Avenue Loft
District would not have been brought back to life. In addition,
federal New Markets tax credits have raised capital for investment
in the Washington Avenue area and elsewhere in the City of St. Louis;
however, Missouri faces increased competition for those tax credits
as the other states enact piggyback credits. Brownfield tax credits
stimulate the reuse of idle or abandoned industrial sites and provide
needed financing for these difficult projects. The Missouri Quality
Jobs program and venture capital tax credits are valuable incentives
to expand existing companies and attract new companies to our region.
Job training tax credits assist companies in maintaining a productive
and high-quality workforce.
Support the expansion of tax credits that serve to stimulate
economic growth for our region and Missouri. Eliminate the cap on
the Missouri Quality Jobs program. Oppose efforts to cap or reduce
the historic tax credit and maintain the transferability of the
historic tax credit. Establish a state tax credit to serve as a
match for the federal New Markets Tax Credits. Support an increase
in the appropriation to the Brownfield Property Reuse Fund. Oppose
changes that would reduce access to brownfield tax credits. Increase
the allocation of job training tax credits for companies that retain
and/or expand their workforce.
CONTIGUOUS PROPERTY REDEVELOPMENT FUNDING
As part of the brownfield redevelopment legislation passed by the
Missouri Legislature in 2001, a contiguous property redevelopment
fund was established. The Contiguous Property Redevelopment Fund
will provide grants to cities and counties to assist in acquiring
multiple contiguous properties for redevelopment. This fund is not
currently funded and expired in 2006. This fund has the potential
to greatly enhance large-scale development in distressed areas of
the St. Louis region.
Resurrect the Contiguous Property Redevelopment Fund and secure
an appropriation to provide money for cities and counties to acquire
multiple contiguous properties. Support legislation that will help
in the land assembly process in older urban areas.
The availability of the newest generation telecommunications and
video infrastructure is a very important decision factor for a business
choosing to locate or expand in a region. Reliable, high-speed telecommunications,
video services and data exchange is essential to business productivity
Support policies that encourage investment in technology infrastructure
and promote customer choice. Support policies that establish minimal
regulatory treatment of all new providers of telecommunications
and video services in order to enhance infrastructure investment
and maximize consumer benefits from competition.
SMALL BUSINESS GROWTH
The fastest growing segment of the St. Louis regional economy is
the small business sector. In the St. Louis region, there are nearly
50,000 businesses with under 50 employees. These small businesses
employ 342,000 and have a total payroll of $11.3 billion. The
strength of small businesses is a key part of the state’s
economy, but more needs to be done to improve their ability
to expand. Small businesses can grow when there is infrastructure
that encourages and supports entrepreneurs; however, such a supportive
environment does not exist in Missouri. Small businesses face challenges
in accessing capital, obtaining private and public contracts, training
their workforce, and purchasing affordable health insurance. Missouri
is the only state that does not fund its statewide Small Business
Development Centers (SBDCs). The state’s goals in participating
in contracts with women-owned business enterprises have
not been met. Tax credits authorized for small business incubators
have not increased for years. Options to purchase affordable health
insurance are limited. Missouri must aggressively work to improve
the environment for small business in order to increase job growth.
Encourage policies that stimulate an entrepreneurial culture
and enhance the growth of small businesses. Provide direct assistance
to small businesses with high-growth potential such as: grants for
professional services, mentoring and training through the SBDC’s,
greater access to low-interest loans for start-up and expansion
capital or state matching-grants for federal Small Business Innovation
Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.
Encourage greater access to markets for minority and women business
enterprises in the public and private sectors. Support accountability
and enforcement studies to ensure that the State of Missouri meets
or exceeds its goals for contracting with minority and women-business
enterprises and that the program goals meet constitutional requirements.
Entrepreneurs need access to early stage capital and assistance
to grow their company. Innovation Centers and incubators, like the
Center for Emerging Technology and the Nidus Center for Scientific
Enterprise, aid start-up companies with lab or office space, technical
assistance and training. In addition, angel investors and SBIR/STTR
grants provide complementary financial resources. If the St. Louis
region hopes to spawn new companies from the industries of the new
economy, more support must be offered by the State of Missouri.
The Certified Capital Company and other venture capital tax credit
programs were successful in encouraging private investment and attracting
out-of-state capital into emerging companies. However, these
programs have been exhausted for several years.
Support state policies that expand venture capital funds, angel
capital funds and federal small business R&D grants. Create
a new tax credit program to stimulate investment in life sciences
and other high-technology companies, such as those housed in state-sponsored
or private-business incubators. Increase funding to Innovation Centers
and to the Center for Emerging Technology. Establish a tax credit
for qualified research or development expenses, including federal
R&D grant programs, in selected emerging industries with a designated
portion set aside for companies located in distressed communities.
Encourage state pension funds to invest in venture capital funds
and in Missouri’s emerging plant and life science as well
as other complementary technology companies.
PLANT/LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY
The St. Louis region is a world-class leader in plant and life sciences
research. The State of Missouri should play a crucial role in translating
this research base into a thriving business sector by investing
in public resources to leverage significant private investment.
Starting in fiscal year 2007, the Life Sciences Trust Fund will
receive 25 percent of the tobacco settlement funds. However,
last year’s budget redirected the money away from the Life
Sciences Trust Fund into general revenue. When properly funded,
the fund will allocate resources to build research capacity and
to promote life sciences technology transfer and commercialization.
Oppose attempts to transfer money from the Life Sciences Trust
Fund into general revenue. Support the further development of wet
lab space and incubators. Support programs that encourage college
and university/business collaboration and strengthen the workforce
for the plant and life sciences industry.
Last year, the Missouri General Assembly passed a law mandating
a 10 percent ethanol mixture in all gasoline fuels sold in Missouri,
beginning in 2008. There are currently five million vehicles on
the road that can use even higher ethanol blends, an 85 percent
ethanol mixture (E-85). Auto manufacturers have committed to produce
one million flex-fuel vehicles a year by 2010. These vehicles can
operate on unleaded gas or on E-85, and some of these vehicles are
already in production in Missouri. However, only two gas stations
in the St. Louis region carry E-85 gasoline, limiting the maximum
benefit for flex-fuel vehicles. In order to expand the ethanol market
and reduce Missourians' dependence on foreign oil, more filling
stations must carry E-85. Increased ethanol usage will create more
demand for renewable fuels produced in Missouri.
Support incentives to filling station owners to install E-85
gasoline pumps to complement the federal tax credit for E-85 pumps.
STEM CELL RESEARCH
The life sciences industry is a critical element of our region’s
economic development future. Our region must provide a welcoming
environment for medical research. Limitations on research
will put the St. Louis region at a competitive disadvantage in attracting
and retaining scientists, entrepreneurs, and life sciences companies.
Support our region’s research community by allowing researchers
to conduct stem cell research, including research associated with
adult, cord blood, early stage stem cells no later than the blastocyst,
and those derived from somatic cell nuclear transfer. Oppose human
REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING
Without increased transportation funding, economic growth in our
region will be stifled. When the voters’ rejected the transportation-funding
referendum in 2002, critical regional improvements to our roads,
bridges, and transit system were shelved. In this environment, it
is essential that the state Highway and Transportation Commission
dedicate to the St. Louis area its fair share of funding. Stable
funding for the region’s transit system is essential for long-range
service and capital planning. Missouri provides very little assistance
to our region’s transit system.
Support a funding formula that reflects the economic strength
and development needs of the St. Louis region. Oppose efforts to
redistribute money away from St. Louis region.
With over 50 million annual riders, MetroLink and MetroBus fill
a vital need for the St. Louis workforce. The opening of the Cross-County
MetroLink in August 2006 united the bi-state region and provided
commuting connections from Shiloh and Shrewsbury. Ridership is growing
and more and more St. Louisans are using transit as their primary
mode of transportation to work. Moving people by public transit
will become even more important when renovation of Interstate 64/Highway
40 commences this year. However, the METRO system faces a $28 million
operating deficit for its fiscal year starting in July 2007, jeopardizing
the future of the region’s transit system. Severe service
reductions loom unless a stop-gap funding source can be found. There
is no dedicated funding for transit by the General Assembly, and
funding from the State of Missouri has decreased
by 55 percent since 1996. METRO’s survival is critical to
the economic stability and development of our region, and it will
take a broad partnership of federal, state, county, and businesses
to keep the system running. There are currently plans to ask local
voters in 2007 for a sales tax increase to generate new revenue
Support a one-time, special appropriation for at least $15 million
to maintain MetroLink and MetroBus service for one year.
Each year nearly 90 people die and more than 1,000 are seriously
injured on Missouri roads, because they chose not to use their seat
belt. Seat belts have proven to save lives and reduce serious injuries,
yet Missouri’s safety belt usage rate remains consistently
lower than the national average. A primary seat belt law would enable
law enforcement officers to ticket motorists based solely on an
observed seat belt violation. The twenty states with a primary seat
belt law experienced an 11 percentage point increase in their use
rates. This increase would save up to $10 million annually to the
Missouri’s Medicaid program from prevented deaths and traumatic
injuries. Also, Missouri could qualify for an additional $16 million
in federal funds.
Support passage of the primary seat belt law.
HIGHER EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
The growth and productivity of the Missouri and the St. Louis regional
economy greatly depends upon the skills and qualifications of its
citizens. Our region’s workers must be properly prepared to
meet technological and educational requirements, if they are to
succeed in a competitive global market.
Support increased job and customized job training funding to
provide training for new and expanding businesses. Support job training
funding to aid in the retention of existing businesses. Support
collaborative partnerships with schools, community colleges, community-based
organizations and businesses to enhance and improve educational
opportunities for all students. Support increased funding for workforce
training and skills development with special emphasis on advanced
manufacturing, information technology and life sciences.
LEWIS AND CLARK DISCOVERY INITIATIVE
Gov. Blunt has proposed for Higher Education Loan Authority of Missouri
(MOHELA) to sell off a portion of its assets to fund the Lewis
and Clark Discovery Initiative. This initiative is a public-private
partnership to strengthen Missouri’s higher education infrastructure
and to accelerate commercialization of research into technology
companies. The plan would distribute $335 million for capital improvement
projects at Missouri’s community colleges and university campuses,
including funding for Benton-Stadler Science Hall at the University
of Missouri-St. Louis and for an early childhood education and parent
center at Harris-Stowe State University. Additionally, funding would
be directed to the building of the CORTEX life sciences development
in St. Louis and for the Center for Emerging Technologies.
The Missouri Technology Corporation would receive $15 million to
create an endowment used for attracting and retaining high technology
companies and commercializing their existing research.
Support the establishment of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative
to provide an infusion of capital funding to the St. Louis region’s
community colleges and universities and to improve the state’s
role in creating high technology companies.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-ST. LOUIS
As a primary provider of the college-educated workforce for the
St. Louis region, the strength of the University of Missouri-St.
Louis directly impacts the strength of the regional economy. For
the last several years, state appropriation to UMSL has not been
commensurate with its mission to become a first-class teaching and
research institution. Upgrading facilities and programs at UMSL
is critical for our region’s capabilities in science and technology
and for creating the job opportunities in the new economy.
Support increased funding for the University of Missouri–St.
Louis to correct system-wide equity issues. Support funding
for the continued implementation of the campus master plan toward
the completion of the Business, Technology and Research Park.
Support appropriations to renovate the teaching and scientific research
laboratory space at Benton and Stadler Hall.
Our region’s community colleges enhance the educational opportunities
and provide a vital role in the education and skill development
of our region’s workforce. Community colleges also provide
substantial economic benefits to our region, returning $7 of economic
activity for each tax dollar invested.
Support efforts to reach full funding for community colleges.
Support capital funding for maintenance and repair of buildings
and equipment as well as development of new campuses and centers.
Support funding for life sciences initiatives at community colleges
that encourage job training and workforce development, worker training
and economic development.
K-12 SCHOLARSHIP TAX CREDITS
In the global economy, graduates from
St. Louis-area schools must compete with graduates from schools
in India, China, and Japan. However, many students in our area school
districts are not prepared for the jobs and industries of the future.
The Missouri Student Success Scholarship Program offers students
in poor-performing districts a new opportunity to achieve a quality
education. This program provides educational scholarships to eligible
low-income students residing in St. Louis City, Kansas City and
in the Wellston school districts, so that these students can attend
a qualified public, private, or parochial schools of their parent’s
choice. Tax credits would be issued to individuals and corporations
who donate to scholarship granting organizations which direct the
scholarships to eligible students. The scholarship granting organizations
are regulated and certified by the State of Missouri. Last year’s
legislation limited each scholarship to $5,000 and the state tax
credit was capped at $40 million annually. Ninety percent of the
funds used by the scholarship granting organizations were mandated
for scholarships, books, tutoring, after-school programs, technology
Support the Missouri Student Success Scholarship Program to
provide opportunities to students in disadvantaged school districts
to obtain a quality elementary and secondary education.
Cultural and arts organizations enrich the quality of life of our
community and play an important role in recruiting top-notch workforce
talent. Nearly 13 million people annually attend cultural and artistic
events in our region, creating 4,400 jobs and generating an economic
impact over $700 million. Many local cultural and arts organizations
rely on the Cultural Trust Fund for support. The Cultural Trust
Fund receives revenues from the taxes placed on the earnings of
non-resident professional athletes and entertainers who play or
perform in Missouri. Sixty percent of the fund’s revenue is
statutorily directed to the Missouri Arts Council Trust Fund. Over
the last four years, the athletes and entertainers tax generated
over $100 million, yet the Cultural Trust Fund did not receive its
entire allotment as directed by state statute, causing, the Missouri
Arts Council to tap its endowment to support area arts programs.
A stable state funding source will ensure that St. Louis’
cultural assets remain strong.
Oppose the diversion of funds and restore full funding to the
Missouri Arts Council and Cultural Trust partners as defined in
state statute. Oppose any attempts by other groups to receive revenue
from the athletes and entertainers tax.
Metropolitan areas must develop and implement an effective, immediate
medical response to natural disasters, terrorist events, and other
critical incidents. Healthcare workers need to be deployed to the
incident scene without delay. Currently, healthcare workers are
only insured for actions occurring at the hospitals and offices
where they normally work. During the St. Louis region’s response
to the Hurricane Katrina victims in 2005, it took nearly a week
for area healthcare providers to extend their insurance coverage
in order for their employees to provide healthcare services at Lambert
Airport. If an emergency were to directly occur in St. Louis, this
delay would cost lives. A broad based group including representatives
from the St. Louis Area Regional Response System, regional hospital
and healthcare providers, and state agencies, believes state liability
protection for healthcare workers in a state of emergency will speed
the response time to deliver the necessary services.
Support legislation that will provide liability protection from
civil lawsuits to doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers who are
deployed in response to a state emergency. Provide liability protection
for corporations and individuals who volunteer their resources and
assistance in response to a state emergency.
The State of Missouri recognizes the doctrine of “employment at-will”
which states that when an employee does not have a written employment
contract and the term of employment is of indefinite duration, the
employer may terminate the employee “at-will” within federal or
state laws. Missouri’s employment “at-will” doctrine has been established
through case law and recognizes certain public policy exceptions
to the “at-will” doctrine such as protecting the employee for reporting
a crime that has occurred (“whistleblower”) or the employee refused
to perform an illegal act at the request of the employer (“refusal
to commit an illegal act”). The ruling in 2004 by the Eastern District
of the Missouri Court of Appeals expanded this doctrine by lowering
the standards of proof in the areas of whistleblower protection
and an employee’s refusal to commit an illegal act. This Court of
Appeals decision would protect employees who merely believe that
the company may in the future commit an act that may or may not
be illegal. Prior Court of Appeals rulings have required employees
to prove past illegal conduct by the employer and/or prove that
the employer required the employee to perform an act that would
violate a statute, constitutional provision or regulation. Given
the discrepancies in the existing case law, the Legislature should
act to clarify the law.
Support legislation to codify state case law regarding the at-will
doctrine in order to enhance the state’s business climate. This
legislation would require evidence of wrongdoing on the part of
the employer before an employee may receive whistleblower protection.
Require evidence that any act which the employee refused to conduct
would have violated the law.
State law restricts a customer from spending more than $500 every
two hours in Missouri casinos—the only state that imposes such a
limit. The Missouri Gaming Commission has consistently reported
that the loss limit makes Missouri casinos less competitive than
casinos in neighboring states. No evidence indicates that loss limits
restrain problem gamblers. In a Gaming Commission survey of problem
gamblers who have placed themselves in Missouri’s voluntary exclusion
program, 90 percent said the $500 loss limit did not prevent people
from becoming problem gamblers. A lifting of the loss limits could
raise $53 million a year in new revenue to the state due to increased
customers to Missouri casinos. Statutorily, the new tax revenue
would be directed to education, veterans, the state’s college student
loan program, the National Guard, early childhood development programs
and gambling addiction programs.
Support repeal of the $500 loss limit in Missouri’s casinos.
MUNICIPAL FINANCE CONTRACTS
Currently, Missouri’s first class and home rule cities and counties,
like St. Louis City and St. Louis County, have the ability to use
financial products to better manage their budgets against fluctuating
interest rates or fuel costs. Such products or tools can bring stability
to public-sector budgets by transferring price and interest rate
risk from the unit of government to a financial services provider.
Missouri statutes do not expressly authorize local governments and
political subdivisions to enter into these types of financial agreements;
therefore clarifying legislation is needed to extend this capability.
The new legislation would establish an additional and strictly optional
tool for all political subdivisions who want to enter into risk
management contracts. Other states, including Illinois, have enacted
similar legislation for school districts, municipalities and public
entities to enter into these types of agreements. The St. Louis
area’s business climate depends on the fiscal stability of our region’s
political subdivisions, and this legislation will provide a valuable,
voluntary budgeting option for our region’s public sector managers.
Support legislation to expressly enable political subdivisions,
like municipalities and school districts, to enter into risk management
agreements with financial service providers in order to protect
their budgets from spikes in energy costs or interest rates.
Trauma is the leading cause of death among Missourians' under 35
years old, and among children it claims more lives than all other
diseases combined. Trauma centers and their life-saving services
are vital to the health of a community, but the high cost of maintaining
trauma services and insufficient reimbursement can place an enormous
financial burden on a hospital. The total cost of unreimbursed hospital
care at Missouri’s major trauma centers exceeds $45 million a year,
and a stable long-term funding source has not been established.
Pursue additional funding for trauma centers to maintain high-quality
healthcare services for the St. Louis community.
CERTIFICATE OF NEED
The majority of residents in our community receive health insurance
through their employer; therefore, businesses have a strong interest
in controlling their healthcare costs. The proliferation of excess
medical capacity can increase health insurance premium costs to
employers. Current regulations have contained healthcare costs through
oversight of unnecessary medical capital expenditures; however,
specialty providers do not receive the same degree of oversight.
Support changes in the certificate of need regulations to ensure
a level-playing field between hospitals and specialty providers.
REGISTERED ENVIRONMENTAL PROFESSIONAL
The permitting process at the Department of Natural Resources has
been criticized for interminable delays and an inconsistent review
process. Allowing “registered environmental professionals” to submit
permit applications has lessened the permit-approval process in
other states, without compromising environmental quality. These
state-registered professionals, using their years of specific experience
and proficiency, can validate the merits of a permit; thereby speeding
up staff review time over the application. A quicker, yet complete,
review process will facilitate economic development without jeopardizing
Support the creation and use of “registered environmental professionals”
in the permitting process.
To encourage businesses to frequently review their operations for
environment violations, other states have followed the U.S. EPA’s
lead in establishing audit policy privilege and pre-enforcement
notification. A state audit policy would allow regulated businesses
to identify and report relatively minor noncompliance actions without
fear of sanctions. Pre-enforcement notification would require that
the agency provide notice of the alleged noncompliance and make
an effort to informally resolve the matter prior to the commencement
of a formal enforcement action with the business. These policies
can facilitate cooperation between businesses and regulators, resulting
in a cleaner environment for all.
Support the establishment of audit policy and pre-enforcement
notification either by rule or legislation.
LEGALLY CHALLENGING AGENCY POLICY STATEMENTS
Regulatory consistency would be improved by allowing businesses
to challenge an agency’s guidance document or policy statement.
A recent court decision shields these unpromulgated rules from legal
challenge, opening the door for an agency to implement policy using
internal guidance documents and policy statements rather than formally
adopted rules developed through a stakeholder process.
Support legislation to allow DNR guidance documents and policy
statements to be challenged in court.