Missouri tries tax breaks to keep thousands of Ford jobs

Kansas City StarJuly 15, 2010 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon today will sign into law $150 million in tax breaks for automakers that are aimed at Ford Motor Co.'s assembly plant in Claycomo and intended to save thousands of jobs.

After a tortured, four-week process that culminated in a 20-hour filibuster, Missouri lawmakers finally approved the measure Wednesday, ending a special legislative session called by Nixon. He will join automotive workers to sign the bill during a ceremony this afternoon at UAW Local 249 in Kansas City.

"With the sharper, stronger economic tools provided by this jobs bill, Missouri can make sure that our automotive industry remains vibrant for generations to come," said Nixon, a Democrat, in a statement Wednesday.

"The legislature also passed a fiscally responsible measure to modernize the pension system for future state employees and ensure the solvency of this retirement system."

Reforms to the pension system could save state government $660 million over 10 years, lawmakers said, with the savings expected to offset the costs of the automakers' tax incentives.

A Nixon spokesman said Wednesday that the governor had a "positive and productive" conversation with Ford CEO Alan Mulally following the bill's passage. In the telephone call, Nixon reiterated the importance of Ford and its supplier network to Missouri's economy.

"The governor looks forward to working with Alan and Ford in the days to come," spokesman Sam Murphey said.

The tax incentives would allow automakers and their suppliers in the state to keep up to $15 million a year in employees' withholding taxes in exchange for retaining jobs and upgrading facilities.

It's designed to save the 3,900 jobs and two assembly lines currently in operation at Claycomo. The plant is expected to lose one of those production lines next year.

Read more of this story at KansasCity.com

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