KC Business Leaders Applaud Bill To End Border War

Donald Hall Jr. | Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
Don Hall Jr. said the so-called the border war between Missouri and Kansas leads to wasteful spending.| Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Three prominent Kansas City business leaders on Thursday expressed support for a bill that would end the ongoing economic incentive one-upmanship between Missouri and Kansas.

Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, filed the bill Wednesday during prefiling for the Missouri General Assembly’s upcoming session, which begins in January. The legislation would make businesses moving from four Kansas counties to four Missouri counties ineligible for state tax credits, retention of state withholding taxes or any direct state funding. Those measures would have to be reciprocated by Kansas before they would go into effect.

Roshann Parris, chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Parris Communications, called the bill an “important step” toward ending the so-called border war being waged between Missouri and Kansas in the Kansas City area.

“Resolution of this critical issue is at the top of the Chamber’s 2014 legislative agendas for both Missouri and Kansas,” Parris said in a statement. “We look forward to putting our shoulders to this effort as we work with legislators in both states to make this happen.”

Don Hall Jr., chair of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and chair and CEO of Hallmark Cards, praised Silvey’s efforts.

“This legislation will provide the pathway for Missouri and Kansas to join together in controlling this wasteful spending,” Hall said in a statement. “For too long our efforts have been directed at shuffling existing jobs, not growing new jobs.”

A study this year by the Hall Family Foundation found that Missouri and Kansas had forgiven a combined $212 million to move existing jobs across the state line. The result of all those incentives and movement was a net gain of 465 jobs for Kansas.

Greg Graves, past chair of the Kansas City chamber and chair and CEO of Burns & McDonnell, said a resolution to the border war is “long overdue.”

“Senator Silvey and Senator Holsman have come forth with a very common sense solution to a complex problem,” Graves said in a statement. “With their leadership and the unwavering support of the Greater Kansas City Chamber, who has been behind this from day one, I am confident both Missouri and Kansas can finally put this practice in the past and move forward as a region.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon last month called for a truce in the border war, saying the competition for jobs is “terrible” for the local economy.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has expressed similar sentiments in recent months. In August, he acknowledged the incentives arms race could be a “zero-sum game” and said he was “negotiating something” with Nixon.

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