JEFFERSON CITY - Leaders from Missouri's major business and labor organizations expressed confidence Tuesday that a bill to create an international trade hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport will pass the Missouri legislature's special session.
Dan Mehan, president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, said he believes leaders from both political parties are coming together on the idea of passing the legislation. Mehan and his colleagues said they are optimistic it can be done, but know that the General Assembly will have to act swiftly.
"If we want to compete in the way that we know we need to, we're going to have to be bold about it," Mehan said.
The business leaders said they hope for Missouri's government to create $360 million in tax breaks to foster trade relations with China by establishing an international cargo airline.
Under the plan proposed by legislative leaders and the governor, those tax breaks would be coupled with reductions in other tax credits including credits provided to historic building developers, the elderly, handicapped and house renters.
The business leaders' news conference came on the same day that indications emerged from a Senate working group of divisions about the plan -- particularly the proposal to eliminate tax credits for lower income elderly residential renters.
Mehan and his partners said they believe that almost 18,000 temporary jobs would be created in the construction field and 11,000 permanent jobs would be created to run the hub. Business leaders said they hope the addition of these jobs will repair some of Missouri's unemployment issues.
Dick Fleming, president of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, said he was confident the bill can pass in the next couple of weeks, but he has some concerns with the employment rates in Missouri right now.
"The bad news is we, as of last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that our state has fallen to number 33 in terms of job creation," Fleming said.
Mehan said he believes if the state does not take action toward fixing these unemployment rates, Missouri will fall behind the rest of the nation even more so.
Gov. Jay Nixon set a Sept. 6 date to open a special session at the of the Missouri legislature.
At an early morning session with reporters Wednesday, Nixon expressed confidence the legislature could pass the tax package within a couple of weeks.