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When government picks winners and losers ...

January 04, 2012 J

Today’s news that Boeing has decided to close its Wichita operation by the end of 2013 is not only disappointing; it’s devastating when considering the impact it will have on thousands of Kansas families.

There’s no question the residents of Sedgwick County will sympathize with those who will ultimately lose their job. But hopefully they also take this opportunity to question the wisdom of decisions made by government officials in the past.

Let’s recall the debate in 2006 that revolved around the building of the Center for Aviation Training in Sedgwick County. The aircraft companies asked taxpayers to pay more in property taxes so that they could have a building where they could train aircraft industry workers. They made it clear that without the training center and its’ tax increase funding mechanism, they would be more likely to leave Wichita. Local government officials echoed the often used line of “build it and they will come.” Rather in this case, it was “build it and they will stay in.” They said increasing the already high property tax burden on taxpayers was “an investment in our future.” They questioned whether opponents of the tax increase were competent and even went as far as accusing groups like Americans for Prosperity of being misleading in efforts to educate taxpayers.

Well the future is here and it, in part, contains higher property taxes and the loss of thousands of private sector jobs.

AFP back in 2006 and still today, supports tax and regulatory reform that impacts all taxpayers instead of government picking winners and losers in the marketplace. Companies like Boeing have received special tax treatment from our local and state government in the form of tax exemptions, bond issues, and all kinds of handouts used in the name of economic development.

But what if we stop all that? What if we simply tackled government spending, aggressively reduced our high tax burden, and reduced government regulation? Wouldn’t we then see an increase in economic activity leading to economic growth?

Oh, and where are those Boeing jobs going? According to the company the jobs will be located in Oklahoma, Texas, and at their worldwide headquarters in Washington. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation, all of those states have a lower state and local tax burden (as a percentage of state income) than Kansas. More jobs and less taxation sounds good to me.

Derrick Sontag, Kansas State Director, Americans for Prosperity

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