House Republicans will bring a bill to provide $9 million plus interest to McDonnell Douglas Corp. up for a vote in the remaining hours of the Legislature if Democrats promise them 17 votes.
Democrats, however, are still split on the proposal, which company officials say could bring 800 jobs to the state over the next decade. In a straw vote conducted Wednesday morning, only 11 voted to support the economic development incentive.Said Minority Leader Frank Pignanelli: "I'm voting my conscience on this. I'm an attorney and I draft contracts. I don't think we're getting a good deal. I, in good conscience, cannot support it. I think we need security for this money, which we would require from any other company."
To sweeten the deal, Republicans agreed they would fund a "capital access" bill sponsored by Rep. David Jones, D-Salt Lake, which would create a pool of money to be loaned to small-business owners for expansion programs. Under the agreement, McDonnell Douglas would get $9 million plus interest to expand its Utah operation and Jones' capital access program would receive $375,000 a year over the next three years.
Minority Whip Kelly Atkinson said the incentive would mean employment for Utahns. "Here we have a chance to put $10 million on the table to bring in jobs we know will be produced here," the West Jordan Democrat said.
But some Democrats remain adamantly opposed to the proposal to assist the high-tech company that many financial publications say is facing financial difficulties.
"We're sitting here and we're unable to fund our social programs and we're throwing $10 million at the wall," said Rep. Max Young, D-Murray.
Though the majority party can bring up the McDonnell Douglas bill without the minority party's blessing, Republicans suggest it may be one of the Democrats' few remaining bargaining chips, especially since a budget compromise was achieved Wednesday morning.