Thursday, August 4, 2011

#Aerotropolis: A Case Study in Political Patronage and Legislative Logrolling

Show-Me Daily: Aerotropolis Kingmaker “Fix” Isn’t Much of One:
The Missouri Watchdog has just posted an updated version of the special session legislation [see  embedded document below]. The kingmaker portion of the bill has been changed and, instead of cutting out the kingmaker portion altogether, it appears that the bill’s drafters have wrapped a bureaucratic maze around the provision in an effort to tamp down untoward use of executive power.


I applaud the bill’s drafters for their attempt to add some transparency to the process of awarding warehouse construction tax credits. However, the new language doesn’t actually address the fundamental problem: The Mayor of Saint Louis and county executives would still be gatekeepers to up to $300 million in state tax incentives.
The reality is that warehouses that are economically viable will be built, so incentivizing the construction of new warehouses with tax credits is not necessary except as a political payoff. The bureaucracy envisioned by the Kingmaker "Fix" underscores the patronage that our logrolling legislators in Jefferson City have engaged in. By manufacturing a bureaucratic process around Mayor Slay and County Executive Dooley in choosing "Gateway zones", our legislature has wisely reasoned that the hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for more warehouses needs oversight.

But 18,000,000 square feet of available warehouse space constructed before the legal concept of "Gateway zones" was fabricated begs the question: why are local zoning laws now insufficient for new construction?
Special Session Draft Bill

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