In vetoing HB 327 late last week, Gov. Matt Blunt mentioned specific drafting errors in the legislation and a general discomfort with the bill’s overall costs. I agree with the governor that there was plenty to dislike in the bill.
However, there were several components of the bill that would have greatly benefited the City and I hope that the Governor and the General Assembly will take those important issues up again soon. These include an expansion of the caps for the state’s Quality Jobs and Enterprise Zone programs, a state New Markets Tax Credit program, changes to the tax credit program available for film production, and a program of new tax credits for land assembly in low-income areas. These initiatives, taken together, would stimulate new investment in the City and would mean greater economic opportunities for many City residents.
Like most of you, I read the governor’s veto letter carefully looking for clues to his plans for the bill’s many components. I suspect that most of the programs I mentioned will find their way before legislators again soon.
I am particularly interested in the future of the tax credit for land assemblage, which the governor did not mention in his veto message. Despite some recent development activity in north St. Louis, thousands of scattered vacant lots and buildings still dot the landscape there and the risks of substantial investment still outweigh the likely economic returns. I continue to support public incentives to stimulate large-scale investment in north St. Louis as long as the redevelopment plans do not displace current residents against their will and do not require the demolition of significant historic properties. One change that I would certainly encourage in the land assemblage proposal is a reduction of the minimum size of an eligible project. At a 100 acre threshold, it was unlikely that any developer would have been able to use the credits in the City.