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Missouri Moves Toward A Truce With Kansas Over Tax-Incentive Border War

Samuel King
KCUR 89.3
Kansas and Missouri have spent more than $300 million between them to lure businesses across state lines it the Kansas City metro alone.

Kansas and Missouri are accustomed to throwing millions of dollars in tax incentives at businesses to lure them across state lines. But under a bill unanimously approved Thursday by the Missouri Senate, the “border war” would stop in the Kansas City metro area — only if Kansas officials agree. 

Supporters said during floor debate this week that the legislation would put an end to companies receiving millions of dollars in tax breaks to move a matter of blocks, without bringing in many new jobs or employees to the region.

“These folks aren’t moving across the state line, the company is,” said Sen. Mike Cierpiot, the Lee’s Summit Republican sponsoring the bill. “Everything else about them still stays the same, they’re still shopping in the same stores, with the same paycheck.”

The legislation applies only to companies from Douglas, Johnson, Miami and Wyandotte counties in Kansas. In Missouri, it applies to Jackson, Cass, Clay and Platte counties. St. Louis, St. Joseph and Joplin are not part of the bill.

Cierpiot said that in recent years, Missouri has paid more than $150 million to lure 5,526 jobs from Kansas, while Kansas has spent $184 million to move 6,729 jobs from Missouri.

It’s Missouri’s second attempt to address the situation. A similar bill became law in 2014, but expired in 2016 after Kansas officials failed to reciprocate.

Cierpiot told KCUR that Kansas’ legislature doesn’t have to approve a change in policy, and said he’s optimistic that Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly would be amenable to a truce in the border war.

But no decisions on that side of the border have made just yet.

“The governor continues to discuss and review proposals as this issue works its way through the Missouri legislature,” said Kelly spokeswoman Ashley All.

The bill now heads to the Missouri House.

Samuel King is the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter: @SamuelKingNews

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