Blunt, McCaskill back Nixon’s disaster declaration request to Obama

Blunt sponsored a tax relief act and announced the Joplin Tomorrow Foundation.

Senators Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday supporting Gov. Jay Nixon’s request for an emergency disaster declaration for 27 counties in Missouri.

Nixon requested an emergency declaration June 28 due to unprecedented flooding, according to a news release.

“As you know, Missouri has suffered several other natural disasters of large magnitude in the past year,” the letter stated. “That coupled with the scale of the current Missouri River flooding has led the governor to determine that an effective response to these events is beyond the capabilities of the state and local governments.”

Missouri is anticipating additional flooding along the Missouri River, according to a news release.

“The granting of an emergency declaration is essential to help Missouri communities continue to save lives and protect property, including shelter supplies for communities forced to evacuate, as well as technical assistance and equipment to support on-going and anticipated flood-fighting operations,” the release stated.

Blunt co-sponsored the Southeastern Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2011 on June 16, which will provide aid to the areas affected by the recent tornadoes and flooding.

“Just as we saw after Hurricane Katrina, the critical tax relief included in this bill will help Missouri families, farmers and job creators clean up and rebuild in the aftermath of recent floods and tornadoes,” Blunt said in a news release. “I’m proud to join my colleagues to co-sponsor this important legislation, which will help Missourians and other Americans move forward.”

Employee retention credit for employers is one example of aid offered in this bill.

“This bill provides a 40 percent tax credit to small businesses who continue to pay their employees while their business is inoperable,” according to the bill.

In addition to the letter and bill, Blunt has shown his support for relief efforts by announcing the creation of the Joplin Tomorrow Foundation along with former Senator John Danforth, R-Mo.

According to a news release, the non-profit organization will provide low or no-interest loans to businesses that want to locate in the areas destroyed by the tornado. It plans to raise $10 million from individuals, companies and foundations. The organization has already received a $25,000 grant from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a $500,000 grant from the Danforth Foundation.

“Joplin Tomorrow will seek not only to restore many of the businesses that were destroyed, but also to attract new ones and thereby help the city rise to a new level of industrial and commercial prosperity,” Danforth said in a news release. “Just as New Orleans is now beginning to thrive, so can Joplin. Joplin Tomorrow is a critical tool for securing that future.”

The Boone County Democratic Party and the Boone County GOP did not respond to requests for comment.

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