Mo. House approves tax incentives

Friday, April 8, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri House approved a series of economic incentives Thursday aimed at attracting sporting events, science-related jobs and data centers to the state.

The bills easily won bipartisan approval, and supporters say the various incentives will help to boost economic development in Missouri.

Under one measure, Missouri would offer a sales tax break for data storage centers and server farms and would create an incentive program to recruit science and technology companies. The legislation was approved 144-7.

Lawmakers also approved separate legislation that develops a tax credit to help bring collegiate, amateur and youth sporting events to Missouri. The tax break would be capped at $10 million per year, and no more than $8 million could go for sporting events near St. Louis or Kansas City.

The tax break was aimed at helping Missouri compete for major tournaments such college basketball and hockey championships, football bowl games and Olympic trials. It also could be used to land regional and national youth sports tournaments.

Supporters of that tax break say Missouri has lost large events because of the incentives offered by other states. They contend that bringing those types of events to Missouri attracts visitors from other states that would then spend money here.

Both bills now go to the state Senate, where several lawmakers have expressed concerns about creating new tax breaks because of the affect on state revenue. House members this week also gave first-round approval to legislation designed to spur international trade at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. That legislation was expected to advance to the Senate next week.

House Speaker Steven Tilley said he is optimistic about winning support for the economic incentives and said that they would help to spur the state's economy.

"Those are all initiatives that we think can help move Missouri forward and make it one of the first states out of the recession and not one of the last," said Tilley, R-Perryville.

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