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Border war truce finds support in the Missouri General Assembly

03/04/2014 3:18 PM

03/04/2014 9:02 PM

Overwhelming majorities in the Missouri House and Senate have signed off on separate bills that would call a truce in the state’s economic border war with Kansas.

The House approved its version of the bill Tuesday on a 153-3 vote. Last week, the Senate passed its version 30-2.

To become law, one or both of the bills would still have to wind its way through the other legislative chamber.

The legislation would

prohibit incentives for border-jumping businesses

in Douglas, Johnson, Miami or Wyandotte counties in Kansas and Cass, Clay, Jackson or Platte counties in Missouri. It would only go into effect, however, if the Kansas Legislature or governor enacted a similar measure in the next two years.

“If they don’t join us, we may find ourselves in a place a couple of years down the road where we are standing on this floor debating a Kansas recruitment act,” Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican sponsoring the measure, said last week during debate.

Ending the border war has been a priority of many Kansas City area business leaders for years.

The executives of 17 businesses — including Dan Hesse of Sprint and Donald Hall Jr. of Hallmark Cards — wrote a letter to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback two years ago arguing that the use of incentives to lure companies from one side of the state line to the other was harming the area.

A study by the Hall Family Foundation concluded that since 2009, one Kansas program has waived $141 million of tax revenues to move 3,343 jobs from Jackson County to Johnson or Wyandotte counties.

Meanwhile, one Missouri program has waived $76 million in tax revenues to move 2,929 jobs from those two Kansas counties to Jackson County.

The Hall study found a collective tax waiver of $217 million that produced a net gain of 414 jobs in Kansas.

“Businesses may be moving back and forth, but the workers aren’t moving,” said Rep. Kevin McManus, a Kansas City Democrat. “The goal of economic incentives is to create new jobs and bring new people to our state. When we just shuffle jobs across the street, we’re missing the whole point.”

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