State Capitol

Three state House of Representative members from Franklin County voted in favor of financial incentives to lure a Boeing jet plant to the St. Louis area.

State Reps. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, and Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, voted for incentives in last week’s special legislative session.

However, Curtman said he should have been a “no vote” on the bill but accidentally voted in favor of it.

He says he voted for the incentive bill because he thought he was actually voting on a different matter.

He explained that there was confusion surrounding the bill when it came to the House for a vote. He said the wrong Senate bill was sent to the House and therefore there had to be a resolution to bring the correct bill to the floor.

When he voted yes, he thought he was voting on the resolution to bring forward the correct bill when in fact he was really voting on the incentive bill that got approved.

If he had voted differently it would not have changed the outcome, he said. But he said the confusion that surrounded the vote shows what can happen when legislation is pushed through too hastily.

“I do not take any pleasure in explaining a mistake, but I believe I am duty-bound to my constituents and supporters to own up to it,” Curtman said in a statement on his website. “The voting mistake was mine, and no one else is to blame.”

Meanwhile, Curtman said he has a feeling that the Boeing 777X jet plant will not come to Missouri anyway.

He said he would have voted no because after looking at some of the figures with the incentive bill, it turns out that the package could make the state lose revenue and be costly to taxpayers.

Curtman added that there is a portion of the bill that could give the governor unilateral ability to act with economic development officials to offer even more incentives.

The House supported the incentive bill with a 127-20 vote, and the Senate voted 23-8.

The incentives could total more than $1.7 billion over two decades, and the jet plant could bring around 8,000 jobs to Missouri, The Associated Press reported.

“I think it was a competitive approach,” Schatz said, adding that he thinks Missouri’s central location in the United States is an advantage. “I hope it will be enough to put us in the running.”

Franklin County stands to benefit substantially if the plant opens in St. Louis.

Local residents could work at the plant, and industries in Franklin County could manufacture parts for the planes.

Moreover, East Central College could possibly get involved in the job training aspect.

Schatz noted that Missouri is competing against other states such as South Carolina, Texas and Utah for the 777X jet plant, which may be in operation by 2017.

It is unclear how long it will take Boeing to make a decision on where to locate, Schatz said. But he said it cannot be too long or it will delay production.

Schatz noted that offering incentive packages is the game states play these days when it comes to attracting industry.

If Missouri does not get involved it will end up losing out on jobs, Schatz said. Businesses want to locate where there is a less-stringent regulatory environment, he added.

Schatz said that is why he supported a tax cut bill last year that Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed. That bill would have helped businesses, too, Schatz said.

Hinson could not be reached for comment by press time.