Thursday, February 05, 2009

Missouri State Reprsentive Michelle Kratky weekly Capital Update Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009

WEEKLY CAPITOL UPDATE Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009 HOUSE APPROVES ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL The Missouri House of Representatives on Feb. 5 voted 141-19 in favor of a package of tax breaks for businesses that supporters hope will create jobs in the wake of the state’s loss of 26,500 jobs in 2008. The bill’s fiscal note estimates it will cost the state at least $300,000 a year with an unknown upper limit, although some informal estimates place the total cost at $40 million or more a year. A primary component of HB 191 would eliminate the existing $60 million cap on tax breaks available through the state’s Quality Jobs program, which provides companies incentives for creating jobs that pay at least the average local wage and provide employer-funded health care coverage. The bill also includes a ten-fold expansion of subsidies for companies that simply don’t cut jobs, boosting the amount available to $30 million a year from the current $3 million. In addition, the bill provides tax breaks for biotechnology research, venture capital investments and data storage companies that locate facilities in former mines. STATE UNEMPLOYMENT FUND FACING INSOLVENCY The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial relations is seeking a $260 million loan from the federal government to keep the state’s unemployment trust fund from going broke. With the state’s unemployment rate at a 25-year high of 7.3 percent, the increased number of workers seeking benefits has placed a severe financial strain on the fund. Missouri last had to seek federal help for its unemployment fund in 2003 and 2004. UM SEEKING TO FREEZE SALARIES, FURLOUGH WORKERS University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee is asking the UM Board of Curators to give him the authority to freeze salaries for the four-campus system’s 24,000 employees and to possibly furlough workers. Under the furlough proposal, employees would be forced to take unpaid leave for short periods of time but would retain their jobs. FLOOR ACTIONS The House passed HCR 5, which disapproves the recommendations of the Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials, on January 26. On January 29, the resolution was also passed by Senate, signed by the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem and sent to the Governor. BY THE NUMBERS House Actions as of 2/2/09 - 11:30 am # House Bills Filed 528 # HBs Referred to Committee 165 # HBs Reported Do Pass 1 # HBs Reported Do Pass Consent 1 # HBs Perfected 0 # HBs Third Read 0 # HBs Reported Do Pass in the Senate 0 # HBs Third Read in the Senate 0

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