There they go again. That’s politicians – robbing from individual taxpayers to sweeten their own political resumes.
How else to understand a plan to give $15.1 million in tax increment financing (TIF) to move a Shawnee company to new headquarters in Lenexa?
Perceptive Software, a Shawnee company for now, announced it’s planning to move its 600 employees from a three-story, 100,000 square-foot building built with tax abatements in 2005 to a shiny new 120,000 square foot building in Lenexa in 2013.
And some Leawood politician is probably bragging somewhere about the jobs created. For shame. This is political shenanigans at taxpayer expense and nothing more.
Shawnee council member Jeff Vaught told the Kansas City Star that Lenexa’s offer to move the company four miles is an abuse of incentives.
Vaught should probably take the plank out of his own eye before complaining too loudly about the toothpick in Lenexa’s.
In the very same article, Vaught said Shawnee aggressively pursued Perceptive Software offering the company abatements and cash.
“We used every tool we had in the box,” Vaught told the Star.
Initially designed to help spur development in troubled areas, tax incentives are now being used to construct palatial buildings using taxpayer subsidies. The practice simply has to cease.
If Perceptive Software couldn’t afford new digs in Lenexa at the existing tax rates, then tax rates are too high for the little guys who don’t have the political clout to get a taxpayer subsidy.
This sickening race to the bottom in public financing allows governments to pick economic winners and losers. It’s a slap in the face to capitalism and a punch to the gut for small business owners who must compete without taxpayer dollars.
Unfortunately, this isn’t simply a Johnson County problem. The state of Kansas actively competes against Missouri for businesses that move across the street. The taxpayer subsidies supposedly add “jobs” but a job subtracted from Missouri and added to Kansas doesn’t help the people who live in the Kansas City metro area. It’s a zero sum game that doesn’t create new jobs. It simply pads the resume of the politicians who can brag.
The Kansas Legislature, with the approval of Gov. Sam Brownback, recently approved an extension of a corporate welfare program, STAR bonds, a few days ago. STAR bonds allow the state to get into the game of offering goodies to projects.
It’s a program that should’ve been allowed to expire, but it was given the thumbs up from a majority of Topeka lawmakers.
It’s time the people took back the power to create winners and losers in the marketplace. We can start by ousting the politicians who vote for things like STAR bonds and massive abatements and TIF projects.
Those who supported the STAR bond extension include: Reps. Mike Kiegerl, Marvin Kleeb, Scott Schwab and Arlen Siegfried.
We should also offer our support to those who vote to enshrine economic liberty. These legislators deserve a thank you: Reps. Charlotte O’Hara, Owen Donohoe, TerriLois Gregory, Brett Hildabrand, Greg Smith, Kelly Meigs, Amanda Grosserode, Lance Kinzer and Kasha Kelley.