The proposed Missouri Innovation Park in Blue Springs has the potential to transform Eastern Jackson County. The project, led by the University of Missouri, holds the promise of thousands of jobs in animal science and related, rapidly growing fields.

That’s why it’s disappointing to see state Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit, whose district includes most of Blue Springs, oppose the plan.

Here’s the immediate issue in Jefferson City: The House has easily passed a bill with tax credits for companies that create new jobs. That bill includes incentives for the Innovation Park. Bartle and other senators, however, want a broader debate about tax credits, which they claim have spun out of control.

Every dollar of tax credit, they argue, is a dollar less for roads, schools and health care. They at least want the process changed so tax credits for, say, historic preservation are on the same chopping block as education, prisons and highways.

Fair enough – but Bartle is missing the forest for the trees. The Innovation Park is not another retail project, not another building renovation. The state is using one of the few tools it has to entice these companies and these good-paying jobs to locate in Missouri. If this doesn’t move forward quickly, officials fear, those jobs could easily go to Kansas instead.

Bartle says he likes the concept of the Innovation Park but can’t support the funding for it. Given the state’s somewhat limited tools compared with other states, we can’t afford to be so selective. It’s fine to debate the philosophy behind the funding, but this is a vital project for this community. Our leaders in Jefferson City should be on board.