The border war between Kansas and Missouri continues its frustrating pattern

The bitter, continuing struggle for business between Kansas and Missouri often goes uncovered in national media organizations. But while going under the radar, both of these states are burning through millions of wasted dollars every tax year. There's nothing new about this dispute, but with enough national coverage you would hope that someone, on some side of the aisle, could come to their senses and pull the plug on this Seussian scenario.

Kansas City is, of course, directly over the state line, so issues which apply in Kansas may not apply to a Missouri neighborhood one block away. Along these same lines, the number of jobs being gained or lost in each state can be impacted by a business relocating the same minor distance. In an effort to boost a statistical bottom line, an economic border war has been raging, where each state is offering corporations unreasonable benefits to move their facilities.

The end result is burning through taxpayer money with only perceived gains to show for all this wheeling and dealing. We’d call it a zero-sum game but at least a zero-sum game breaks even. This is merely the pettiest form of economic backstabbing, with the city taking the loss.

It is best illustrated in this two minute video clip, which we worry we will be inserting into articles for years to come.

Yeah. It’s pretty stupid. Like impossibly stupid. And you would think, like we do, that national spotlights shining on this would push someone into backing down, being the bigger man, or whatever version this has to take to stop a senseless back-and-forth.

But Kansas/Missouri politicians keep acting as if their hands are somehow tied on this issue. Last October, Missouri’s Economic Development Department said Swiss Re, a reinsurance provider, would move 400 jobs from its Overland Park offices to downtown Kansas City.

“My job is to fight for jobs,” Greitens said in a statement.

But this isn’t creating jobs. That’s a drive time of twenty minutes between those two locations, and most of it runs parallel to the state line. Overland Park is a few miles from the Missouri border and is absolutely a part of Kansas City.
This is textbook definition corporate warfare, and at a time when the state of Kansas is running out of money to fund public schools, any loss of taxpayer money seems ridiculous if the only benefit is a politician being able to brag about a higher number in an Excel spreadsheet somewhere.
That’s why the latest news is as constantly hard to accept as any other news about this border war. On February 14th, it was announced that Kansas is offering a $3 million tax benefit package to HCA Midwest Health. What does that $3 million get the state of Kansas? Brace yourself. HCA Midwest Health will move a whopping 70 jobs from (you guessed it) Kansas City, Missouri to Overland Park, Kansas.
The KC Star puts it best:
Incentives for new firms with new jobs should be considered. Incentives for expansion or job retention can also be on the table. But paying HCA Midwest $426 per yard to move makes no sense for any reasonable taxpayer.
The time is right for all the politicians involved to sit down at a table and give up on the shell game con that scores them relatively few permanent political points and costs two states an unreasonable amount. There is no version of interstate economic warfare where 70 jobs is impressive, much less a brag worthy of a $3 million price tag.
Kansas and Missouri are two sitcom teens who have drawn a line down the middle of their room, and it’s time for an adult to show up and teach them the value of sharing.

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