Kansas Sharpest Eco Devo Tool–STAR Bonds, Renewed
May 28, 2012

(AP) – Kansas legislators have extended the life of an economic development incentive considered an effective tool for the state in attracting businesses.

Lawmakers approved a bill allowing Kansas to authorize bonds for big projects backed by sales tax revenues through June 2017.

Such STAR bonds have helped Kansas in a contest with Missouri over jobs in the Kansas City area.

They helped finance Kansas Speedway, the NASCAR track, as well as a new stadium for the Major League Soccer team Sporting Kansas City.

But enough legislators had misgivings about the bill that it didn’t clear the Legislature until shortly before lawmakers adjourned May 20. Gov. Sam Brownback has until June 4 to decide whether he’ll sign it, and his spokeswoman said only that he would review it carefully.

Missouri House Takes On Kansas Business Poaching
April 25, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri House members borrowed from the economic development strategy of some other states and endorsed legislation Tuesday aimed at attracting large projects with a new type of incentive that would use the additional tax revenues to help pay for the plan.
The new economic development tool would allow local officials to issue special obligation bonds to help pay for major projects. The bonds then could be paid off by tapping the additional state and local sales and use taxes generated by the development project, plus local hotel taxes.
The state House gave the measure first-round approval Tuesday with minimal debate. It needs another round of approval before moving to the state Senate.
Incentives would be targeted for projects with at least a $50 million capital investment and expectations to generate $50 million in sales per year. Developments away from larger cities also could qualify for the incentives if they have regional or statewide importance, or if they’re planned for a major tourism area — places where state officials conclude at least $100 million worth of capital improvements will be built.
“This is an economic development tool that our state does not have, but our bordering states do have, and they have employed with great success to our detriment,” said House Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka. He added that the proposed incentives were intended to boost significant entertainment and tourism destinations that would attract visitors from outside Missouri.
“We are talking about destination spots, not moving the theater across town,” Jones said.
Cities or counties planning to issue the bonds would need to conduct a public hearing and approve a resolution or ordinance within 30 days. Project developers would need to start work within two years and be finished within 20 years.
The incentives could not go to businesses seeking to relocate within Missouri or if a required marketing study shows that similar businesses in the area would be harmed by the project. Casinos could not be part of the development projects.
Local officials would be required to prepare a feasibility study that includes examining whether the incentives and project revenue would be sufficient to pay for the development; how jobs created by the project would contribute to economic development efforts; and the expected return for state and local investments. The director for the state Department of Economic Development would examine the study and any additional information.
The legislation, which has bipartisan backing by House leaders, would allow the incentives to go toward project expenses, such as buying property, preparing utilities, paving streets, landscaping, parking, museums and sports complexes.
Supporters say Missouri has lost out when similar incentives have been offered in other states, particularly Kansas.
House Minority Leader Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City, said he has seen firsthand how Missouri has lost out on new projects by not offering the incentives. For example, similar incentives were part of the package that Kansas officials used in securing a development project worth several hundred million dollars that included a soccer stadium for the Kansas City Wizards. The soccer team previously played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
“Kansas is getting our tax dollars,” Talboy said.

Brownback, ‘We’re Not Poaching, We’re Recruiting’
May 11, 2011

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback defended his state’s economic policies today. His defense came just hours after Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James said the business poaching across the state line has to end (see previous post from today).

“We’re not poaching”, Brownback told KMBC TV . “Kansas is open for business. But we’re not poaching.”

Brownback says in many cases,  the state gets “blind recruits” from private companies or their representatives. They get the company’s business requirements and reply. ” We don’t know  where they’re from”, said the Governor.

Kansas’ economic recruitment package and it’s incentives are much stronger than Missouri’s.James today compared t it Kansas having a gun while Missouri has “a popsicle stick”.

A bill  intended to provide Kansas City with more job retention money is  in a conference committee in the state legislature. But it’s prospects are uncertain. Lawmakers adjourn for the year at 6pm Friday.

Mayor James also complained about the governors of Missouri and Kansas ignoring a letter from Kansas City business people  urging both states to find a solution to the business raids. James says the letter has been” forgotten”.

Brownback disputes that, too.

“We’re not blowing the letter off”, said the Governor. But he says the border war issue is taking a back seat now to the  state budget battle  in Topeka.

Brownback called it a “big budget broo-ha”.

The state legislature enters its 90th day Thursday. They are scheduled for 90 day sessions, but have worked beyond that deadline in the past.

Brownback praised the work of the legislature. But he acknowledged they’re still three-quarters of billion dollars short of finishing the budget work.

‘The legislature is doing a great job”, said Brownback, “this is the first budget since 1973  with a cut in all funds. Cutting budgets is hard.”

The Governor says it’s typical for legislatures to have to make hard decisions as adjournment time nears. But he says that’s better than the federal system. He says they have no deadline.