What, For Free? Gimme $78 Million Dollars
Can’t you just imagine seeing this scene playing out …
Cordish to Centene: "Excuse me, sir? What it is, Mr. CEO; we’re from out of town."
Centene To Cordish: "No s%!t."
Centene: "What, for free? Gimme $78 million dollars in tax credits and incentives."
Cordish: "We’re not gonna give you $78 million on top of everything else the taxpayers have already paid for."
City of St. Louis (from passenger seat and reaching for checkbook / aldermanic approval): "I think that’s fair, Cordish."
Cordish: "Here’s $78 million, plus a brand new sales tax for your own sales tax district." (Pauses while Centene pockets it all.) "Keep the change."
Needless to say, I could go on and on. I would really have liked to work "a Torino with no wheels on it" into this, but I think I have made my point. The fact that the above scene actually takes place in St. Louis is all the better, in case you forgot that.
The move of Centene is just another insane example of businesses playing various cities against each other in order to get taxpayer money they don’t deserve. I may sound naive here (and I am not at all naive when it comes to government and politics), but if cities such as St. Louis would just improve their overall business climates, they would not have to give away the store to favored targets. These incentives and tax credits are necessary precisely because of the earnings tax and other disincentives for business in the city. Getting rid of those disincentives first makes giving away new incentives far less necessary.