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Greetings once again from your state capitol. The state legislature is back in session this last week of June 2010 at the request of Governor Jay Nixon.
This special session was called to consider two proposals. One proposition is to give tax breaks to large manufacturers who bring a new line of manufactured products to our state. The primary target in this proposal is Ford Motor Company in suburban Kansas City. They have already announced they are taking one line of the automobile production to Kentucky. This proposed legislation would make it more attractive to bring another line of production to the Missouri plant and attempt to keep the production plant open. There are already two automobile manufacturing plants in the St. Louis area setting vacant. The Kansas City area (Claycomo) plant employees about 3,700 people. These are good paying jobs and would be devastating to Missouri’s economy if we should lose them. Also there are suppliers scattered over the state that build and send components to the Ford plant. They are competitive partially because of delivery costs to a plant in their general area. We also know that other states including Michigan and Ohio are trying to lure Ford in their direction.
A bill very similar to this was passed by the House in regular session but was not passed by the Senate.
The other bill called for by the Governor deals with some reorganization of the state employee retirement system. Missouri State Employee Retirement System (MOSERS) covers most state employees including elected officials, highway patrol and MoDOT employees. Over the past few years the system has struggled to meet its obligations; no doubt part of this has been caused by the stock market problems. But unlike many other retirement systems (MOSERS) participants do not contribute a portion of their salary to the system.
The bill the House passed this week would require new employees to contribute four percent to their retirement system’s funding. There are some other changes as well including changing the 80 and out rule for new hires to 84 and out and vesting moving from five years to ten years.
Both these bills passed the Missouri House by a comfortable margin and now go to the Senate. The Senate can agree and pass them, defeat either or both, or amend either or both and then pass and return them to the House.
I supported both bills as they currently stand. We must make every effort to keep jobs in our state. The retirement bill as currently written makes sense to me. I am not certain about my vote if what is rumored to come back from the Senate actually turns out that way.
It is an honor to serve you in state government.