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Kansas' Red Dawn
Under Brownback, Kansas Sees Wage and Job Growth
Is the red dawn still rising for Brownback? As Andrew Wilson argues in the WSJ, perhaps Brownback’s government is no longer a total flop—even if it isn’t roaring success, either. Wilson cites statistics showing that unemployment is down and wages and job growth are up in Kansas these days, facts he attributes to Brownback’s tax cuts. A key piece of evidence in Wilson’s case is the Kansas City metro area, which straddles Kansas and Missouri. The Kansas side now has lower taxes than the Missouri side:
“I just think Kansas City is a great study,” the governor says. “This is an unusual place, where you’ve got a city virtually equally divided between two states.” The results? Over the past two calendar years, private-sector jobs increased by 5.6% on the Kansas side and only 2.2% on the Missouri. In the same period hourly wages grew $1.22 on the Kansas side, compared with $0.61 on the Missouri side.
Not all is rosy, of course. One enduring problem seems to be that wage and job growth aren’t making up for the lost tax income, putting the state’s budget in danger. According to the piece, Brownback has resorted to risky can-kicking to keep the budget afloat, including delaying pension contributions. But the growth is real (even if not spectacular) and Kansas appears to be improving its growth prospects for the long term.
One big gap in the Brownback approach is the lack of serious thought about the reinvention of government. We need to make it possible for government to do what it needs to do faster and cheaper, and IT productivity enhancements and thorough reform could both play big roles in streamlining governance. Those measures won’t change everything at once, either, but a state where growth was up and the cost of government administration on a long-term decline would look like a state on the way to long-term health.
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  • FriendlyGoat

    The Kansas-side suburbs of the Kansas City Metro area have been the home of more money and more prosperity than the “city” for four or more decades.

    • f1b0nacc1

      A heck of a lot more than ‘four or more’ decades…

      • FriendlyGoat

        One assumes that Brownback and other conservatives would not be elected in Kansas without the propulsion of Johnson County money, and yet the folks of Johnson County are the LEAST in need of tax cuts to (supposedly) stimulate the economy of the entire state. This is why the tax cut game doesn’t really work as advertised and why TAI should not be pretending that Brownback’s tax cuts somehow made Johnson County go boom..

        • f1b0nacc1

          You really know comparatively little about Kansas, and it shows.
          While there are a lot of businesses in KS that would be profitable without the tax breaks that Brownback proposed, there are a lot more that wouldn’t have been. Even if this isn’t true, a very significant number of those companies that are profitable in the KC area (and we have been reasonably lucky as a region) have either relocated to KS from Missouri (I work for one, as it happens, and have enough perspective on how that decision was reached that I can be sure why they did what they did) or decided not to leave KS for Missouri or elsewhere. This is just in the KC area, you only need to look at Wichita or any of the smaller cities to see similar dynamics played out. As a side point, you also need to remember that KS has typically had much lower taxes than MO, and this state of affairs is nothing new. A result is that KS has enjoyed far greater economic growth (just how do you think Johnson county got to be rich in the first place?…I assure you it wasn’t from the scenery) than MO, and you can see this anytime you look at the dividing lines between the two states. MO has long been dominated by the lefties in St. Louis and of course the corrupt Dems in Jackson county, and their tax policies (as well as their regulatory arrangements) reflect this.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Does your company make more sales and employ more people in Kansas than it did in Missouri? If so, what changed about your customer demand to make that possible?

          • f1b0nacc1

            My company sells nationwide, and I am quite confident that both KS and MO make up only a small part of our overall sales. The cost of doing business in KS is significantly lower than in MO however, and that is why we made our move. The regulatory costs associated with KS (particularly since Brownback took over, but certainly before that as well) are also substantially lower than in MO.
            With that said, I am personally acquainted with numerous small software firms in KS (some of which are C and S-corps) that found staying in KS made more sense with lower tax rates. Finally, I have seen a cases of people who were thinking of moving and found that the tax rates in KS made sense as a factor (not the only one, to be sure) in their choice of where to move to in the KC area.
            As for how this does (or does not) constitute economic development, when the tax dollars from that business goes to Topeka instead of Springfield (or Overland Park or Mission instead of Kansas City or Liberty), you can be that does make a big difference in terms the relative economic fortunes of the states and municipalities in question. Look at the relative prosperity of Johnson and Jackson counties, if you really have any doubts.
            Now obviously all of this is merely my own perspective, but it clearly does jibe with the data, and it makes overall sense in the context of companies seeking to minimize costs.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, there is no question that legislatures and governors can descend into races to see who can give away the most to businesses which can be stolen from other states if new worms are dangled. This is a rather perverse reversal of how we’re told free-market “competition” is supposed to work to the advantage of citizens. In many states, it’s gone far beyond taxes and deregulation. We have quite a number of states now literally paying for various percentages of the cost to make movies—–the so-called film “credits” or “incentives”—– because no citizen force with sense (such as SCOTUS is supposed to be) has been able to say “OF COURSE taxpayers shall not be shaken down to subsidize movie-makers or any other private corporation IN ANY STATE OF THE USA”.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Governors and legislatures do not GIVE AWAY to businesses, they simply decline to TAKE FROM those businesses, a very different matter indeed. A reduced tax rate isn’t a gift, it simply permits the business (or citizen) to retain more of their own money. It doesn’t belong to the government in the first place. That businesses respond to incentives should be the most easily understood phenomenon in the world…why do you find it confusing?
            Now if you want to make the argument that businesses then take the knowledge of these tax/regulatory/what have you opportunities and actively pursue them, well welcome to the real world! This has been going on for centuries, and is hardly new to the US, or for that matter any other country. Just how do you think railroads were built, or canals dug, for that matter? How do you think the industrial revolution happened or land reform or any number of other society-wide phenomena?
            You mention Hollywood’s special tax breaks, and the various giveaways that other states have indulged in as part of the process of luring the movie industry to their locales. I get the impression that you see this as a unique problem, but you seem to ignore that this same process goes on virtually all over the world…yes, even in countries without Citizens United or a conservative GOP! Have you ever seriously looked at movie making in Canada, for instance? For that matter, what do you think subsidies such as the Import-Export bank are all about?
            If all the corporate pork doled out to cronies bothers you, then WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF LIBERTARIANS! Small government is good government precisely because these sorts of abuses run counter to the very idea of limited government. I don’t support providing public subsidies to private industry, I believe in leaving businesses alone and maintaining the lightest regulatory burden possible. Very little room for graft then, and what you can get is too expensive to be worth it. But when you have a maze of regulations, and expensive ones at that, the temptation for using the system (it is called lobbying, and it is part of the First Amendment…try reading it sometime….the part about ‘petitioning the government for redress’ is quite riveting) to obtain a competitive advantage can be overwhelming. Regulatory capture is nothing new (we have excellent evidence of it being used as far back as the East India Company), and once again it is hardly limited to the US, nor is it even particularly onerous here. Take a look at some of the other articles on TAI, particularly those dealing with the EU and you see it being used all the time….

          • FriendlyGoat

            We can agree that taxes are a “taking” thing. States “take” what they need to operate, and, as you pointed out, the jury is still out on how well citizens will tolerate the budget problems in Brownback’s Kansas.

            Regulations are put in place as a balance between some people’s reasonable expectation of rights and those of others. We don’t have laws about polluting water to punish businesses who have run-off. We have them to protect the water which belongs to and is needed by everyone.

            As for “giving away”, there are circumstances where that indeed does happen. Many state legislatures—-greatly bribed by incorporated interests—-have given away their citizens’ rights to form closed-shop unions. We know that is not just a norm of nature, because many states have not done it. The idea of this being a right/left legislative choice in particular places is absurd, seeing as how ANY company can avoid unionization by treating its workers well in the first place. Many, many do that and citizens should not be coerced into giving that bargaining chip away. But, yeah, I know they get shorted that way in red states. What is “winning” in a moment is not necessarily that which is right, however.

          • f1b0nacc1

            I always find it amusing that the Left likes to cite the few regulations (clean water, for instance) that EVERYONE agrees with (or do you believe that there are evil businessmen who actually want dirty water, outside of a few lefty agitprop movies?), but ignores the thousands upon thousands of others that we all hate. Do you really want to suggest that there are no regulations that are burdensome or unnecessary, or that regulatory capture doesn’t happen?
            Your comments on unions suggests that citizens aren’t smart enough to make their own decisions. Why should I, or anyone else, be forced to join a union if I don’t believe that it serves my best interests? Closed shops might be appealing to union bosses, but many (most?, certainly polling data suggests this, but I don’t want to overstate the case) don’t find them desirable. If you suggest that citizens have a right to form a closed shop, then don’t they also have a right not to? Or do these ‘rights’ you speak of work only one way? And, by the way, where do those rights come from in the first place? The constitution, the courts, natural rights? ….care to be a bit more specific?
            Your suggestion that companies can avoid unions if they just treat their workers well enough is laughable, even coming from you. Unions exist (in the words of John L Lewis, one of the titans of the union movement) to forever and eternally demand “more”, hence no amount of ‘good’ treatment will change their demands. Unions themselves have entered into politics as just another special interest group, often pushing legislation or regulation (there’s that funny ‘regulatory capture’ thing again!) to benefit themselves at the expense of others. Funny how that works…
            As for the ‘voiting against their class interests because of social matters’….I have read “What’s the Matter with Kansas” too, and I can only suggest that the author might want to actually VISIT Kansas before he makes assumptions about the reason people vote the way that they do. There are reasons that people differ on policies that aren’t necessarily out of ignorance or evil intentions you know….

          • FriendlyGoat

            1) A union closed shop is supposed to be determined by a vote of the people working there, not by the Chamber of Commerce having purchased the legislature.

            2) Our country has thousands and thousands of companies where employees would never vote in a union because the employers are so fair and good that all the workers know they do not need a union at all. This is always the desirable goal and the threat of unionization is supposed to be a balancing tool that helps employers act as they should in the first place.

            When employers as a class seek to weaken the National Labor Relations Act or its board, the NLRB, or seek to cripple the union threat in the legislatures, that is wrong. I am actually for non-unionized workplaces with the workers having power in reserve and not needing to use it. I am not for saying those bad little employees should simply have no power ever, which is the official GOP position.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Your first point regarding closed shops is fine if the state permits closed shops in the first place. As an employer, I would not start a business in such a state, but if a business is operating in one, then they (the employees) are perfectly free to unionize. I don’t believe that anyone has suggested otherwise. If you are, on the other hand, stating that the state (more precisely the legislature) doesn’t have the right to say otherwise, you are simply talking through your hat. The courts long ago determined that closed shops, while permissible, or not constitutionally required (once again, where is that ‘right to a closed shop’ coming from?), and other than an assertion that they are wrong (for which you provide nothing but your own feelings for evidence) you haven’t been terribly convincing. Suggesting that legislatures are all ‘bought by the chamber of commerce’ (would that it were so!) explains all of this is nonsense, you seem incapable of understanding that there are actually people who have principled disagreements with you.
            On your second point (that some non-union shops are permissible -how generous of you!) you are on firmer ground, but once again you miss the point. If my workers (assuming that I am a business owner) wish to unionize, I am not permitted by law to stop them, but I am also not required by law to continue to run the business, nor must I stay in the state that puts me in this position. Lefties, who are all atwitter about ‘choice’ when it comes to abortion, seem to think that choice in any other venue is utterly unacceptable it seems. My employer offers me compensation for services, if my services aren’t good enough he can dismiss me….if the compensation isn’t good enough, I can find another job (dismiss him)….is this too complicated for you? A union exists to protect it’s members, and ONLY its members. It doesn’t exist to protect the business (nor should it), it doesn’t exist to protect workers in general (in fact unions often do precisely the opposite, disadvantaging workers who aren’t members), which might in fact explain why it (the union) is often at odds with management, which has completely different (but no less valid) interests. One only need look at the auto, steel, and transportation unions to see where this sort of dynamic leads.
            Regarding your failure to understand the GOP position on unions, as long as you refuse to acknowledge that a difference of opinion regarding an appropriate way to safeguard worker interests is not the same thing as a class-based dislike of workers, you really don’t have much to offer in the way of useful insight. You are perfectly free to disagree with anti-union sentiment, but to equate it with hatred of workers is childish and beneath even you.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Of course I am operating on opinion. Everyone is. In my opinion, you—–if you were an employer—-would not be able to find a state with labor laws different from any other state, just as virtually all states operate with a Uniform Commercial Code.
            This constant game of seeing who can tinker around in the legislatures each session to see who can be enabled to steal what from what other state is absurd for citizens as a whole.

            If you can’t admit there is an organized employer class consisting of Chambers of Commerce, “Associated Industries” of this or that state, The National Association of Manufacturers, The National Federation of Independent Business, together with tons and tons of industry-specific groups ALL lobbying Congress, legislatures and The Supreme Court ALL THE TIME against the legal rights of workers as a class, you are asking me or anyone else to be more naive than we are.

            Like I told you, there are a lot of good employers who don’t have unions because the employees there don’t need them.
            The rest of the organized lobbying from incorporated interests is, in fact, the class warfare you conservatives all claim to abhor. Please don’t ask us to pretend it doesn’t exist. Anyone around business organizations—-including the one where you work—-has seen it. Virtually all companies of any size are actively and constantly recruited to join or contribute to organizations on the conservative side of politics. They don’t play tiddlywinks.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Once again, your ignorance is showing….
            The notion that hundreds/thousands/more small/medium/large business can agree, much less collaborate on ANYTHING reveals your staggering lack of knowledge of how businesses work. Employers are not a class, they represent an astoundingly diverse group that is often (mostly) at odds with themselves. The IT industry (with which I am most familiar) contains everything from Microsoft and the other tech titans to 1 and 2 man indies, and they have fantastically antagonistic interests. From my (admittedly more limited) experience, the same sort of thing exists in transportation, hospitality, education, etc. Most empirical studies that have been done support this observation. Only the 19th century romanticism of Marxism in fact suggests otherwise.
            As far as the organizations that do lobbying, of course they recruit new members, that is how they make their money and pay their leadership! Do you honestly believe that they would do otherwise? Unions work precisely the same way, but as unions don’t always represent all workers, neither do these lobbying groups. Given the importance of networking in running a successful business, it would be almost inconceivable if they didn’t do recruiting and if such recruiting weren’t often successful for reasons having absolutely nothing to do with ideology or goals.
            You claim to want a set of labor standards that businesses couldn’t ‘escape’ from, and pretend that this would somehow help workers. Lefties always seem to hate choice it seems….
            As far as the right being committed to class warfare, did you have some sort of emotional commitment to old labor union ballads or something? You haven’t offered a shred of evidence to support this argument, yet you actually expect it to be accepted? At least some of the other twits here have the courtesy of trying to provide proof,, rather than just mindlessly repeating the same canards. The GOP (which contains a business lobby that loves immigration, and a nativist wing that loathes it, for instance) is far more complex than you seem willing to admit, though I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised by it.
            I have been repeatedly warned by others here to not waste my time with you….time I took their good advice

          • FriendlyGoat

            The trouble, f1b0, is that talking with me makes you more and more angry. We HAVE been through this before, you recall, with similar results. You are right that you are wasting time trying to explain that members of the state and national Chambers of Commerce don’t agree on anything and are to be assumed ineffective with their governmental activity.

          • Boritz

            “States “take” what they need…”

            This statement is technically true. It is true in the sense that a person sitting down to a 3000 calorie meal including dessert at the Cheesecake Factory® will start by ordering up an appetizer. The appetizer is what states need. The rest of the meal is not. For a good discussion of this elementary truth one need go no further than the wikipedia article on transfer payments. They comprise the majority of the budget and have nothing to do with the state’s “need”. I’m also not sure what you mean by ‘”take'” and how that is different than take. My bank’s computer treats “take” as if it was take.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I really only put “take” in quotation marks to emphasize it in reply to the former comment. “Take” is take, and we all have to agree that all the kinds of taxes are a taking from either businesses or citizens or both.

            In context now, with this article about Brownback and Kansas, and leaving off federal Social Security. Medicare, Medicaid and VA —-which are federal, not state—- do you really believe that the majority of spending in state budgets is transfer payments?

  • f1b0nacc1

    I live about 100 meters from the MO/KS border in the southern suburbs of KC. The differences are tremendous, and the biggest one is that the KS side of the border is composed primarily of families, while the MO side of the border is not. On the Missouri side, you have an interesting mix of older folks (myself and my wife, for instance) with no kids or kids long gone, and as you move further from the border (State Line road is the border line down here), the population gets younger, darker, and far far less likely to be married. I should note that although this area is technically in the city (I am six blocks from the southern border of the city), we are talking about suburbs in both directions. The difference is family structure and culture, and it shows.
    With all of that said, I don’t doubt that with time what Brownback is doing will work out, though unless it is accompanied by some serious budget discipline, it isn’t going to be particularly pretty in the short term. This might sound odd to those who don’t know much about Kansas, but the folks in Topeka (the state capital) are the last bastion of the Left in the state, and you see a lot of that pathology in their behavior. Add in the so-called ‘new class folks’ in Overland Park, Lenexa, Olathe (very wealthy suburbs of KC on the KS side…roughly comparable to the DC suburbs in VA) and you can see how it is very difficult to keep the spending under control even as the discipline on taxes is being introduced.

  • 45BJ

    His skimping on tip for a waitress and writing X & ‘tip your schools’ on the check show his and most of the right wing’s real
    contempt for the working class americans. Then you have evangelicals shortening on tip. Remember that pastor who wrote on
    the check “I give Jesus only 10 % so why do you deserve 15?”
    These are not isolated incidents. See Nickel & Dimed. The people who wear religion on their sleeves (WWJD on their neck) but skip tip. (I guess if
    God wanted to bless the working class he should’ve.)

    • f1b0nacc1

      Since “Nickel and Dimed” was written by a self-avowed leftist, it isn’t surprising that her completely anecdotal evidence is rather slanted. Most studies that I have seen (along with the anecdotal evidence I have gotten from many of my friends in the restaurant business) suggests in fact that Lefties tend to be terrible tippers, while those on the Right tend to be better ones.
      However, for purposes of this discussion, I will assume that they are simply equal….since you are the one making the claim…put up or shut up….where is your evidence (from a real source, not a lefty who likes to write agitprop) that the Right tips badly?

      • 45BJ

        WoW. You hang around wing nuts, Glenn Beck Univ graduate and their evidence tell you that lefties are evil. Who’d expected that. There isn’t a governor of blue state who would have done what Brownback did that to the waitress. I guess he was following the Bible which says “Tax Cuts for me; Benefit cuts for thee”-4.20 Paul(Ryan)
        Therefore it is untrue. Because we know only FauX “News” has truth about moochers, leeches, welfare queens, etc.

    • Dale Fayda

      Just so you don’t feel like a complete tool: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2014/10/17/Who-s-More-Generous-Liberals-or-Conservatives.

      I can put a dozen more similar studies next to this one. Would you like me to do that?

      • 45BJ

        Everyone knows about Catholic schools, hospitals and other charities. I am talking about born-again, megachurch going, Jesus-loves-Tax Cuts and Guns variety of Christians. They ain’t giving to anyone but to their mega church which is hardly a charity because much of it is spent on Televangelist’s mansion.

        • Dale Fayda

          Generalize much?

          The point is they give, of their own money and of their own volition.

          Whether or approve or disapprove of their particular charities of choice is utterly irrelevant.

  • JR

    Wait, so people prefer living in places where they get to keep more of their money? Sounds like a Koch brothers financed conspiracy to me.

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