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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs Senate Bill 68 after legislators passed it in May.
Photo provided by Gov. Mike Parson’s Office
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs Senate Bill 68 after legislators passed it in May.

2019 Year in Review No. 8: State passes Fast Track economic development bill

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JEFFERSON CITY, MAY 14—In the last week of the 2019 Missouri legislative session, Gov. Mike Parson achieved one of his top priorities to fund the Fast Track grant program.

Senate Bill 68, sponsored by Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, passed May 14, just three days before the legislature adjourned for the session. The workforce development bill is threefold: It establishes Fast Track with $10 million in funding; modifies provisions of the state Department of Economic Development’s Missouri Works training program, renaming it Missouri One Start; and gives incentives to General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) for an expansion of its Wentzville plant.

Days prior to the Senate vote, the House of Representatives passed the measure 92-51. 

“This is a comprehensive economic development and workforce development package that we’ve never had before in the state,” Hough said of the bipartisan vote at the time.

The Fast Track workforce incentive program targets individuals ages 25 and older with an average household income of $80,000 or less. The program is estimated to reach 16,000 students.

The grants aim to help nontraditional students earn degrees in high-demand fields, such as computer science, health care and advanced manufacturing. Full tuition and fees for up to four semesters are covered.

The bill’s passage was not without a struggle, as a 27-hour filibuster delayed a vote. The talks largely opposed the tax incentives.

Under the bill, GM is eligible to receive up to $50 million in tax credits over 10 years if it invests $750 million to expand its Wentzville plant. On Dec. 13, the automaker announced its plans to invest $1.5 billion at the plant. The governor’s office said it was one of the largest single investments from the private sector.

“From day one, our administration has been focused on workforce development and infrastructure, and this project falls right in line with these priorities,” Parson said in a statement following the GM announcement.

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