Texas Gov. Rick Perry wants to poach jobs from Missouri. That means hes going to have to battle Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, whos already trying to steal jobs from Kansas City and the Show-Me State.
By Yael T. Abouhalkah
The Kansas City Star
Perry is part of a TV ad campaign now airing in select areas of Missouri, extolling the virtues of operating a business in Texas.
(The downside: Yes, you have to work in Texas.)
The ad, and Perrys expected trip to Missouri next week, have prompted Secretary of State Jason Kander to issue his own stay out of Missouri press release today. It makes the usual, and excellent, point that all of this shipping of jobs from one state to the other isnt really creating a lot of net new jobs for states.
Perry and Brownback are both Republicans, and both are touting the low taxes of their respective states. Meanwhile, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon accurately points out that Missouri also has low taxes.
This race to the bottom on tax rates is not encouraging news for schools, road builders and anyone else who relies on good public services.
Yes, this is what economic development too often looks like these days: Politicians desperately trying to woo companies to their states with promises of tax breaks and other special favors that ordinary businesses and regular taxpayers normally dont get.
I spent Thursday morning in Johnson County, where the mayors of Overland Park, Lenexa and Mission essentially defended their use of economic incentives to get and keep jobs.
The Kansas City area is at the heart of much of the job-poaching debate because its right along the state line.
In some cases, Missouri has gone too far in doling out public subsidies to companies. The recent wooing of Freightquotes headquarters to southeast Kansas City is near the top of the list.
In other examples, Kansas has pulled out all stops to hand out special tax breaks to select companies to help them come to that state.
Meanwhile, you now have some companies inside Johnson County pitting themselves against each other. The worst/best example is Wal-Marts decision to leave one taxpayer-supported development area in Roeland Park to move to another publicly subsidized area in Mission.
In response, Roeland Park officials say they will have to raise property and sales taxes to replace much of the tax money Wal-Mart once created.
Getting back to Perry, Brownback and Missouri, the whole attitude that its OK to compete by giving a few companies better tax rates than others isnt the best way to create net new jobs.
But thats too often not the goal. Perry and others want the publicity that comes when they make it appear they are doing everything they can to whip up new jobs.