Governors of Missouri, Kansas sign deal to end economic ‘border war’
Who says Republicans and Democrats can’t work together?
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, addressed their states’ long-running economic “border war” Tuesday, each signing a deal to promote more cooperation in a bid to avoid losing tax revenue.
“I hope that other states -- I hope that Washington, D.C. – takes a good look at what happened here today when a Republican and Democrat governor can sit down together and do what is right for our states,” Parson said at a signing ceremony in Kansas, according to the Kansas City Star.
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For years, both states have been using tax breaks and other incentives to move jobs back and forth across the border in the Kansas City area – with the results being lower taxes for the businesses but not much job growth as companies routinely played one state off against the other.
Both states have reportedly lost millions in potential tax revenue in the process.
Missouri spent about $151 million on economic incentives to entice businesses to leave Kansas and move to Jackson County, while Kansas spent $184 million to convince Missouri companies to move in the opposite direction, the Wichita Eagle reported.
“You don’t have to be a scientist to figure out this was a bad deal for both states,” Parson told the Star.
But the deal signed Tuesday aims to reverse that history.
The governors said incentives would end immediately for any deal that doesn’t create new jobs. It applies to four counties in Missouri and three counties in Kansas.
However, the two states plan to continue competing to host startup companies and those looking to relocate from outside the area.
“But we will now use strategies that are sensible, cost-effective and productive for people in both states," Kelly said. “That’s how healthy rivalries should work.”
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The big test now, according to the Wichita Eagle, is whether local governments in the affected counties will go along with the plan.
Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas, a Democrat, seems on board with the plan.
“As we were losing tax revenue in both jurisdictions,” he told the Eagle, “we probably weren’t actually getting people who were moving from side to side. Instead, what we were getting was really just benefit to the corporation.”