Quality jobs bill passes unanimously in House

Rep. Ron Richard - R-Joplin

Rep. Ron Richard – R-Joplin

Parker Willis

The Missouri House unanimously passed a bill that would continue to bring more jobs to Missouri.

House Bill 327 changes the quality jobs bill passed three or four years ago.

“Quality jobs has been a huge economic development engine for the state of Missouri. We can point to at least 18,000 jobs directly from quality jobs,” said Rep. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg). “This just enhances that, it makes it better, it has more businesses that qualify for it.”

The quality jobs bill already gave tax credit to businesses that bring more than 500 quality jobs to the state. Which means if a job offers health insurance and pays the median wage in the county (at least minimum wage) they can get part of withholding taxes back and a tax credit.

The sponsor, Rep. Ron Richard (R-Joplin) said it has done so well that the $12 million cap on tax credits ran out last year. Which is why part of the bill does away with the cap.

“I think a business ought to have a frictionless environment if it offers health insurance and pays a top wage,” Richard said. “There are companies out there that are waiting to add jobs, but the business wants to make sure that if they add the jobs, pay a big wage and offer insurance that they’re going to get these tax credits. But because the caps may become full they are unsure.”

Especially since Missouri isn’t the only state wanting to bring in jobs.

“We are competing heavily against Kansas. That line really means nothing to business. So they could easily go to Jackson County, Mo., or Johnson County, Ks.,” Pearce said. “We’re competing on the Illinois side as well. So we’ve got to offer programs that are going to be competitive with those other states, and I think this really helps.”

In fact, Joplin has already benefited from the program. LeBarge, Pillsbury and most recently Cingular have brought new jobs to the area because of the bill.

HB 327 passed unanimously in committee, then unanimously in the House and is on its way to the Senate with high expectations.

“We think we can pass this thing in another month, maybe before break,” Richard said.

Pearce said Gov. Matt Blunt and the Senate are also behind the bill because it helps the entire state.

“We’re just doing all we can to attract jobs and retain jobs in Missouri,” Pearce said.