By Mike Ferguson | for Missouri Watchdog
Some grassroots conservatives aren’t pleased with their GOP counterparts who voted for a $1.7 billion tax incentive package to try to lure more Boeing jobs to the Show-Me State.
And they plan to come after those Republican Party incumbents in the 2014 midterm elections.
In a hurried special session called by Gov. Jay Nixon, the Missouri Legislature approved a plan last week to attract the aerospace giant and its 777x jetliner production to Missouri.
If the project lands in the state, Boeing could reap $150 million in tax credits annually by creating around 8,000 jobs over the lifespan of the incentives. The proposed manufacturing site is on the edge of Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.
Former state House Budget chairman Carl Bearden, who now runs the conservative advocacy group United for Missouri, is frustrated with the deal, in part, because it comes on the heels of the Democratic Nixon’s successful veto of a broad-based tax cut plan. Without some Republican support for Nixon’s decision, that veto would have been overridden.
“He’s (Nixon) admitting that we can pick winners and losers based on tax policy,” Bearden said.
On social media, Bearden criticized the plan as “corporate welfare” and is calling out lawmakers — especially Republicans — who voted to sustain Nixon’s veto of HB 253, the proposed tax cut bill, and then voted in favor of the tax credits for Boeing.
He anticipates pushback from conservative activists and groups for those Republicans seeking re-election next year.
“They’re the ones who will have the problems, and rightfully so,” Bearden said.
Republican state Rep. Lyndall Fraker is among those on the “Wall Of Shame” on the United For Missouri blog. He tells Missouri Watchdog he’s not feeling any political heat directly from his votes and he stands by them.
“I’ve not had any comments or repercussions from the local folks at all,” he said.
When it comes to linking HB 253 and SB 1 (the Boeing incentive plan) Lyndall said, “It’s not comparing apples to apples. Anyone with common sense can see that.”
The conservative pushback against some Republicans started heating up this fall, after the votes on HB 253. At Republican events, the conservative Missouri Club For Growth accepted donations to fund efforts to support primary challenges against GOP lawmakers who didn’t support the tax cut bill.
Fraker sees the politics of the disagreement as destructive.
“Ronald Reagan would be turning over in his grave.” he said, referencing Reagan’s so-called “Eleventh Commandment” that called for Republicans to not speak ill of one another.
Missouri Club For Growth chair Bev Randles isn’t buying into that advice in this case.
“Ronald Reagan primaried a sitting Republican president in 1976 and almost won,” she said.
She said the group is still in the early stages of assessing state legislative districts. She indicated they will get involved in some races in 2014, but they haven’t yet decided which ones.
Randles isn’t backing down after hearing the criticism of Republicans who are calling for party unity.
“Depending on how you vote you should expect people to be upset with you, especially if you side with the governor instead of siding with the principles of the party to lower taxes for every Missourian.”
Republican state Rep. Don Phillips, another lawmaker being called out by activist groups, agrees with Fraker.
“Just because they disagree with one vote doesn’t mean they should throw anyone under the bus publicly,” he said. “Today’s young people are watching. They aren’t going to support a party that shows discontent and is constantly badgering and bullying their own party members.”
Randles also wants to see GOP unity, but she wants that to be a conservative united front.
“The governor is the person we need to focus on now,” she said. “We need to work together as conservatives to change the direction of the state.”
In the meantime, the result of the Boeing incentive package is unknown as the company is being lured by more than a dozen states, some of which have offered even larger tax breaks. The company is expected to make a decision and announcement on the location of the manufacturing location early next year.
While Phillips called the incentive plan and possible manufacturing growth a “win-win for the state,” he isn’t holding his breath in hopes of landing the jobs.
Republican state Sen. Brian Nieves voted against the package, which passed the Senate 23-8 and the House 127-20. On Facebook, Nieves questioned not just the plan itself, but the way it was rushed through the approval process.
“I desperately want those jobs to come to Missouri but cannot vote for a $1.5 Billion tax incentives program that very possibly violates our state constitution AND was only given 48hrs to be vetted and then voted on,” he wrote.
While the nearly $100,000 cost for the legislative session may yield Missouri nothing, it may have given Boeing some leverage in its talks with the International Association of Machinists. The Seattle Times reports that “serious negotiations” have begun on a labor deal to keep the company’s manufacturing — including that of the 777X — in Washington state.
A labor agreement was rejected by the union last month. The Seattle Times said the union could vote on a new deal before Christmas.