Ben Delman is a GOVERNING contributor.
Missouri is paying employers to pay their employees more. A new law-- the Quality Jobs Act--gives companies tax breaks for hiring workers but asks a lot in return. To earn the incentives, companies will have to pay for half of their employees' health insurance premiums. If they do so, the companies will be able to retain the withholding taxes of their new hires for up to five years.
The law, which goes into effect this fall, sets different job- creation standards for three categories of commerce: technology businesses, small or existing businesses and high-impact businesses. Technology businesses would have to create at least 10 new jobs to qualify. Small or existing businesses would have to provide 20 new jobs if they are in rural areas, 40 if they are in non-rural areas. High-impact businesses would have to add at least 100 new jobs.
Companies also are given bonuses for paying new hires more than the average county wage. The idea is to encourage companies to create high-paying jobs in Missouri.
Another provision in the law will allow local governments to hold referendums to allow voters to increase incentives for companies. Paul Sloca, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, says that in the past, Missouri has lost out on potential employers. He thinks the new legislation will make the state more attractive to businesses and help Missouri to be more competitive regionally and nationally in attracting large corporations. "The goal is to attract high-paying jobs to Missouri while retaining the jobs we have," Sloca says. "This legislation provides the state more tools in attracting companies."