The Missouri General Assembly may reconvene in special session to take up tax credit legislation that includes $360 million in taxpayer-backed incentives to develop in Saint Louis a new international trade hub, more commonly known today as “Aerotropolis.” Proponents claim that these indirect subsidies would bring increased air cargo to Lambert–St. Louis International Airport from international destinations, boosting economic development in the region.
As written, however, the plan violates sound public policy principles by sanctioning a government handout to local developers on terms that are indistinguishable from the cronyism often seen in legislation at the federal level.
Legislators should not take claims that the bill is for “economic development” or “jobs” at face value, because the economics that undergird the Aerotropolis plan fail to support such claims. The state’s representatives and senators appear to take the need for regional growth seriously, as do we at the Show-Me Institute. This plan, however, is a raw deal for Missourians.