Tuesday, December 31, 2013
By Patrick Werner
What do I wish for in 2014? No MO excuses! 2014 needs to be a time of bold actions, policy solutions and leadership. While our elected leaders jump through hoops every time a company utters the word “jobs,” the reality is that Missouri’s stagnant economy is trapped by Gov. Nixon and the state legislature’s lack of vision.
Across the nation, forward-thinking governors and legislative bodies are passing reforms to reverse their states’ decline, spur job growth, reduce wasteful spending and increase revenues. Americans for Prosperity — Missouri is providing a “Path to Prosperity” to educate lawmakers about the demonstrated reforms that can move our state forward. The following examples show how the Show-Me state could achieve real progress through a comprehensive approach of free-market policy solutions from states like Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Kansas.
Just this year, Indiana passed massive tax reforms which displaced Texas on the top 10 most competitive state business tax climates, as ranked by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. That same index saw Kansas move from 26th to 20th and predicts that North Carolina could move from 44th to 17th in coming years, as tax reforms are put into effect. These competitive advantages provide an incentive for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses and allow workers to keep more of their paychecks.
Lower taxes alone are not the only secret to a strong economy. Promoting worker freedom, for example, encourages companies to build strong firms with happy, hardworking employees. Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis reveals that right-to-work states enjoy nearly double the job growth of non-right-to-work states. That’s why Indiana passed right-to-work in 2012, making it the 23rd state to do so and joining Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa in placing workers above union bosses.
Reducing regulatory burdens on businesses and its citizens is another example of free market solutions to growing a state economy. That’s why Florida Gov. Rick Scott established an executive order that has resulted in 2,600 state rules and regulations being streamlined, reduced or eliminated. Small business owners tell us all the time if you just get government out of the way they will create jobs.
Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida and Indiana have demonstrated that cutting spending, reducing regulations, lowering taxes and reforming health care, education and labor are essential to our long-term success as individuals and as a nation. As more states embrace policies that promote economic freedom, the federal government and Missouri must do the same.
Gov. Brownback also said when he became the governor of Kansas “that he didn’t want to manage a state in slow decline.” Gov. Nixon’s agenda last year of increasing spending while rejecting the first tax cut in nearly 100 years is a formula for managing a state in slow decline.
Let there be no doubt, Missouri is currently a state in slow decline. In 2012, Missouri’s gross domestic product grew slower than half of the states including Indiana and Texas. Over the last decade, Missouri’s population grew slower than the majority of states. It seems our friends and neighbors have decided that it’s time to leave for more prosperous states.
Missouri is not without options for restoring economic success. Our Path to Prosperity highlights various policy reforms that other states have used to move their economies forward. It’s time for Gov. Nixon and our legislators to embrace a long term vision for a free and prosperous Missouri.
Patrick Werner is the Missouri State Director of Americans for Prosperity.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a nationwide organization of citizen-leaders committed to advancing every individual’s right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and intrusiveness of government is the best way to promote individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. For more information, visit www.americansforprosperity.org