The Kansas Legislature has appointed a new, bipartisan Rural Revitalization Committee, with Rep. Don Hineman as its chair and Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers a strong supporter. Here is a hint for them: There is only one way to bring economic growth to rural Kansas. Bring in the workers that businesses want to hire. That means thinking differently.
First, here is what not to do. Do not offer tax breaks. It is a popular, but wrongheaded strategy. At the state level, the relationship between taxes and economic growth was put to the test with former Governor Brownbacks Great Experiment starting in 2012. The results were disastrous, with the state highway trust fund and other savings drained, schools and social services cut, and an attempt to fill the hole with regressive sales taxes, pushing Kansas grocery taxes up among the nations highest.
Meanwhile, Kansas lagged the region in economic growth.
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