Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has lobbed a promising idea across the state line: He’s willing to help end the costly economic development border war with Missouri.
It’s about time.
Brownback and cash-strapped Kansas can’t afford to give up a lot more tax revenues in the pursuit of extra jobs simply wooed over from Missouri.
The Show-Me State is suffering its own economic woes and also needs to refrain from senseless job poaching.
As we have pointed out for years, it’s absurd that both states too often funnel excessive public subsidies to companies so they will bring jobs from one side of the state line to the other.
This practice often provides little or no net-new growth in employment for the Kansas City region. Meanwhile, both states lose out on some new tax and existing tax revenues.
That, in turn, puts a bigger burden on other taxpayers to finance the public services this region needs, such as strong public safety and better roads.
Brownback finally said Thursday he’s willing to reduce the use of Promoting Employment Across Kansas, a program that gives rich tax breaks to companies coming to that state. But in return, Missouri would have to make similar reductions in its Missouri Works program.
Gov. Jay Nixon and the General Assembly need to evaluate this offer, which has been discussed behind the scenes for months.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James, a longtime critic of the border war, called Brownback’s idea a “step in the right direction.”
To their credit, Missouri officials already have on the books a proposed plan to prohibit using state incentives to attract businesses from one border county to another across the state line, assuming Kansas’ involvement at some point.
Unwise taxpayer incentive deals need to be reined in on both sides of the state line. Brownback’s proposal could help lead to that positive goal.