Our Opinion: Lawmakers play special 'Deal or No Deal'

Missouri’s special session has become the legislative equivalent of the television game show “Deal Or No Deal.”

A purported deal now hangs in limbo, three weeks after the special session began Sept. 6.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon agreed to the session in July, after Republican legislative leaders indulged in fly-around press conferences to announce they had forged a “deal” on legislation to spur job creation.

Taking flight on behalf of the GOP were Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer of Dexter and House Speaker Steven Tilley of Perryville.

The trumpeted deal proposed incentives for high-tech enterprises and international trade, to be paid by scaling back a portion of Missouri’s 61 existing tax credits.

In calling the September special session in late-August, the governor also asked lawmakers to tie up a variety of loose ends remaining from the regular session.

The economic development agreement purportedly hammered out in the summer already was overdue.

When legislators convened in January for the regular session, economic development proposals were on their agenda, as were recommendations from a tax credit review panel created by the governor in the summer of 2010. But they failed to advance a bill.

As a result, the “no deal” of the regular session became the announced “deal” by Republican legislative leaders, which now has collapsed into a “no deal” during the special session.

The special session is an expensive proposition for Missouri taxpayers suffering amid a prolonged economic downturn. The cost has reached $180,839, with some expenses remaining to be tallied.

Fingers of blame, as is customary, now are pointing in every direction.

We believe, however, Republican leaders largely are responsible for the miscue. They failed to touch all the necessary bases and prematurely heralded an agreement.

The television show, “Deal Or No Deal,” is hosted by Howie Mandel, who also is a stand-up comedian.

Sadly, there is nothing comedic about the dismal denouement of this special session.

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