JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Some Democrats want the legislature -- not the executive branch -- to decide whether to give the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals tax breaks to help renovate Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums.
Rep. Wes Shoemyer said Tuesday that using state funds for a private stadium is controversial and deserves attention from the legislature.
"We want to make sure we're taking care of the basic needs before we take care of the luxury needs, and I want to be able to have that debate about the importance and relevance of this issue," said Shoemyer, D-Clarence.
Last year, a proposal to direct money to the stadiums from the state's income tax on athletes and entertainers who perform in Missouri passed the Senate but never came to a vote in the House. In December, Gov. Matt Blunt backed a new plan to award $50 million in tax credits to help fund the project.
That would steer the proposal away from the opposition in the legislature because, unlike direct state aid that requires legislative approval, tax credits are approved by the Department of Economic Development and the Missouri Development Finance Board.
The economic development department has already signed off on the proposal, but the finance board -- a panel comprised generally of gubernatorial appointees -- has yet to vote on the state aid to the $575 million project.
The terms of the stadium deal call for the Royals and Chiefs to come up with a total of $100 million themselves, $425 million from Jackson County and $50 million from the state.
Shoemyer said the issue is not whether tax credits should be used but whether the legislature should be able to sign off on state support for sports stadiums. His proposal would require legislative approval only for tax credits directed toward stadiums, keeping the approval procedures for other development projects unchanged.
"Everyone gets a voice on the House floor or the Senate floor," he said. "It gives a much broader perspective of what the priorities, as a whole, of the people are."
Blunt said Tuesday that the finance board "under the existing framework has developed a responsible proposal."
Sen. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring, plans to introduce similar legislation in the Senate.