Talks under way to end job poaching border war

By Joe Lambe

The Missouri and Kansas governors are talking about ending the “border war” of job poaching across the state line, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday.

He has proposed an immediate moratorium on the use of discretionary tax incentives where jobs are merely moved across the line, he said.

If agreement can be reached on that, and he thinks it can, the governors could work with their legislatures to make the moratorium permanent.

They would also encourage local officials to end the use of local tax dollars for such things, Nixon said at a speech for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce at the Westin Hotel at Crown Center.

“The opportunities for this region are endless but only if we stop this senseless incentives war and start working together,” he said.

Dollars lost by luring jobs across the state line without creating any new jobs are dollars that could be spent on global competition and better schools, Nixon said.

The Kansas City metropolitan area is a region and those in it should work together like one, he said.

The real competition for both states is global, he said. “It’s essential that we not only think worldly but we act worldly.”

He also said cuts during the recession years have left Missouri poised to leap forward as the economy recovers.

The state cut $1.5 billion and eliminated 4,500 government jobs, he said, but now Missouri has the fifth lowest taxes per capita in the nation.

Already last year it had the third fastest rate of tech job growth nationwide, much of it in the Kansas City area.

Asked what the state could do better, he responded with a list:

  • Do more pre-school education.
  • Make sure higher education is affordable.
  • The state has set higher standards for high school education that will be attacked as more students don’t meet them, but they must be upheld and even made tougher.
  • Do more to encourage entrepreneurship. “People have been thinking too much about getting jobs and not enough about getting careers,” Nixon said. “We need to think about how to create, not just make money.”

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