Missouri Budget Project Warns Against China Hub; Calls for Independent Analysis

click to enlarge Oh, nooooo! Will Missouri legislators drink the China Hub Kool-Aid?
Oh, nooooo! Will Missouri legislators drink the China Hub Kool-Aid?
Missouri legislators got the notice yesterday that Governor Jay Nixon was calling them back to Jefferson City next month for a special session to focus primarily on $360 million in tax credits to establish a cargo hub with China at Lambert St. Louis International Airport.

Also, yesterday, the Missouri Budget Project joined a growing chorus of skeptics warning against the deal. A non-profit organization that advocates for low and middle-income Missourians, the Budget Project predicts that the tax subsidies for the project won't lure trade to St. Louis in an industry already dominated by larger airports and air-cargo facilities. Moreover, similar measures at other airports have failed, and the proposal for St. Louis' China Hub doesn't ensure that those who receive tax incentives to build new warehouses actually export goods back to China.

For those keeping score at home, a group for low-income Missourians (Missouri Budget Project) has now joined a group for high-income, free-market Missourians (Show-Me Institute) as well as multiple industry analysts, media and even the author of the book "Aerotropolis" in condemning St. Louis' Aerotropolis.

But will state lawmakers listen? That's what's worrying the folks at the Mo. Budget Project, who conclude their report noting:
[M]ounting evidence casts serious doubt on Lambert-St. Louis International Airport's ability to become a sustainable international trade cargo zone as intended by the proposal. Excess existing capacity throughout the nation, declining air cargo transportation and the lack of other critical environmental characteristics that define successful cargo hubs raise serious questions about the viability of the "Aerotropolis" proposal.

Before committing hundreds of millions of dollars of scarce public funds, Missouri's lawmakers could consider requiring a wholly-independent study by qualified consultants beyond the influence of the project's proponents. In addition, as has occurred elsewhere when public funds were sought for such efforts, enforceable commitments by major international freight forwarders should be pledged to Lambert-St. Louis prior to committing tax-payer dollars.

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