JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday signed a business incentive bill aimed in part at enticing General Motors to expand in the state.
The economic development package will allow GM to receive up to $50 million of tax credits over 10 years if it invests $750 million to expand a Wentzville plant that makes trucks and vans.
Parson said Missouri is "still working with General Motors" on the potential to expand the St. Louis-area plant, but added that "we're looking for a bright future on that."
GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter in a statement said the company is "still evaluating the overall business case for a potential project in Missouri."
The GM incentives were wrapped into legislation that also creates a new scholarship for adults to finish their college degrees and gives the Department of Economic Development discretion to provide upfront tax breaks to other businesses before they complete their planned expansions or hire additional employees.
The legislation is set to take effect Aug. 28.
The measure passed only after a fight with a faction of Republicans who derided the deal-closing fund as a "slush fund" ripe for corruption. Criticism also centered on the scholarship, which could only be offered to people going into fields designated as in high-demand by state higher education officials.
The full-tuition scholarships would be available for up to four semesters to people ages 25 or older who earn less than $40,000 annually for individuals or $80,000 for married couples.
Both the closing fund and scholarship were part of Parson's agenda outlined earlier this year, before the opportunity arose for an expansion at the General Motors facility. The plant employs about 4,250 people in three shifts to make the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size trucks and the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans, according to GM's website.
Parson on Wednesday also signed legislation aimed at keeping out-of-state plaintiffs from filing lawsuits in Missouri in hopes of winning large settlements from plaintiff-friendly juries.
Plaintiffs have won multi-million dollar verdicts from St. Louis City juries in suits against big companies such as Johnson & Johnson, which has defended against charges that its talcum powder caused cancer.
The legislation changes where plaintiffs can have their cases heard in an effort to limit that.