Gov. Parson defends Wentzville tax breaks, workforce development bill as Senate filibuster drones on

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By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson during a news conference in St. Joseph earlier.

Gov. Mike Parson is pushing for the Missouri Senate to end a filibuster and move to approve an economic development package which includes $50 million in tax breaks for General Motors to expand in Wentzville.

Fellow Republicans, who call themselves the Conservative Caucus, have staged a filibuster against Senate Bill 68, which the governor calls his workforce development bill.

Parson today, during a hastily called news conference with reporters, called on the senators to drop their efforts to talk the bill to death and allow an up or down vote.

Parson says Missourians have made it clear to him that workforce development and upgrading the state’s infrastructure are their top priorities.

The governor says the GM package was added late in the game.

“It just happened to be the one that proved that what we’re doing in workforce development works,” according to Parson.

Parson says it has taken weeks for negotiators with the Department of Economic Development to reach a contract agreement with GM.

“And when I say that, my whole career I have been in business and there’s a whole difference between a contract from a business perspective or a contract; what people would like to label a bailout or basically just a give-away program,” Parson says. “These contract negotiations that we’re doing takes a long time to get them done. They’re time consuming. They’re very sensitive to what the deals are that are made and how we implement that and how we finish that.”

General Motors has pledged to invest a billion dollars to expand the Wentzville factor by 150,000 square feet if the legislature approves the incentive package.

Parson insists the General Assembly has plenty of time to pass the measure, even though the legislative session ends at 6 o’clock Friday evening.

But, if it doesn’t get done this week, the legislature might have to re-visit the issue, according to state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer of Parkville.

“It’s very probable that if we fail to do something on the workforce development front, we may see the governor call a special session and bring us back to Jefferson City to focus specifically on that issue,” Luetkemeyer tells St. Joseph Post.

When asked about the possibility of a special session, the governor brushes the question aside, reiterating that there remains plenty of time in this session.