Lt. Gov. Mike Parson split from Gov. Eric Greitens' administration by voting against tax credits for an ice rink complex in suburban St. Louis, months after he also opposed the governor's efforts to stop tax credits for low-income housing.
Parson was the only member of the Missouri Development Finance Board to vote Tuesday against issuing $2 million in tax credits for a $78.5 million complex and St. Louis Blues' practice facility in Maryland Heights. He said he couldn't support tax credits for a sports complex while the state is refusing to issue low-income housing tax credits, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported .
"We can't supply housing for seniors in the state of Missouri, or veterans, right now," Parson told the board. "It's difficult for me to give tax credits to a sporting facility when we can't take care of those people."
Parson would become governor if for some reason the embattled Greitens left office. The governor was indicted in February on fourth-degree invasion of privacy for allegedly taking an unauthorized partially-nude photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair in 2015. Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied criminal wrongdoing.
Three other Greitens cabinet members on the board — Director of Economic Development Robert B. Dixon, Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn and Director of Natural Resources Carol Comer — voted to issue the tax credits for the ice rink.
After urging from Greitens, the Missouri Housing Development Commission voted in December to stop using state dollars to match $140 million in federal tax credits. Parson also opposed that decision.
Parson "is comparing apples to elephants," Parker Briden, the governor's spokesman, said in an email to the Post-Dispatch. "Low-income housing tax credits are notoriously wasteful, as has been noted repeatedly in audits over the years."
A 2014 state audit found that only 42 cents of every dollar spent in the low-income housing program went toward construction of housing.
Briden said infrastructure credits cost the state about $13 million in 2016 and helped bring jobs to the state.
Patrick Quinn, chairman of the nonprofit St. Louis Legacy Ice Foundation, which will lease the property for the ice rink from Maryland Heights, originally asked for $4 million in tax credits but reduced the amount at the request of board members. Quinn said supporters expect to bring in $4 million in private contributions by selling the $2 million in tax credits.
The project would include three indoor rinks, one covered outdoor rink, and a 3,500-seat arena. The Blues will sign a 30-year lease to practice at the site, which Quinn said could open in August 2019.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com