Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): A truce?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A truce?

Missouri's Gov. Jay Nixon wants to call a truce in the border war. (Or the war to spend your tax dollars to entice businesses to move across the street from one state to the other.)

I'm all for an end to the Border War, but Gov. Nixon's plan is d-u-m dumb. Nixon's cease fire is four parts.

One, Kansas and Missouri would agree to an immediate moratorium on the use of discretionary incentives to lure businesses from one state to the other. 

Two, Govs. Brownback and Nixon would work with legislatures to make laws to make the moratorium permanent.

Three, the governing duo would encourage the use of local Kansas City-area entities from using tax incentives.

And four, both states would work together to leverage their resources in the area as a whole.

My problem with Nixon's solution also has four parts.

One, imposing an immediate moratorium on offering incentives to companies that are moving existing jobs across the state line doesn't limit incentives for companies who promise to add jobs. And here's the thing: In all of these great government tax incentive giveaways, the businesses always make promises they don't wind up keeping. So if AMC Theatre Group, who recently moved from Missouri to Kansas, wants incentives to move back to Missouri, all they have to do is claim they'll be adding NEW jobs in addition to bringing their existing employees across the state line. "New jobs" might mean 200 new employees, or one employee, just the promise will probably be enough to get the old tax-incentive ball rolling.

Two, I don't care how hard the Govs. Nixon and Brownback work with their legislatures to draft permanent laws to stop the Border War. Neither Governor has the power to demand it of their legislatures. And even if they both were able to draft a law, there's no guarantee that law will stand through the next five legislatures who come through town. There are tremendous financial pressures at work when it comes to incentives. Limit businesses' access to tax dollars and campaign funds dry up. Good luck getting a majority of legislatures in two states to go for that one.

Three, the state legislatures should stay out of local government. Unless the state legislature is going to somehow ban the use of local tax incentives, I don't see how in the world they plan to get all of the Kansas City area businesses not to compete using incentives. 

And finally, I wish they'd both just make the rules the same for everyone. That means whether you are starting a business with five employees or 400, you have the same tax policies and obligations. Government shouldn't be in the business of picking winners and losers.

End the Border War by simply refusing to give "tax incentives" (GIVEAWAYS) to anyone. Everyone should be equal under the law, and in my mind, everyone should be equal under the tax code as well. 

Nixon wouldn't feel so obligated to make a big push for an end to the Border War had he not vetoed legislation that would've made Missouri more attractive in the first place.

End rant.

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