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TOPEKA, Kan. – Today, Americans for Prosperity Foundation-Kansas (AFPF-KS) filed a Kansas Open Records Act request with the Department of Commerce seeking records about the Sales Tax and Revenue (“STAR”) Bonds financing program. The request demands access to all internal or external studies or reports on the STAR Bond program, all project feasibility studies, and e-mail communications about the program in 2021.
AFPF-KS State Director Elizabeth Patton issued the following statement:
“Economic development programs like the STAR Bonds financing program attempt to finance local development projects that often benefit privileged businesses at the expense of taxpayers, who suffer from the diffused costs and concentrated benefits.”
“When the government picks winners and losers to transform these towns and cities into tourist hotspots, these subsidies incentivize unproductive behaviors of politicians and businesses who prioritize their gains over the true needs of those they serve. ”
“Between citizens’ eroded faith in the system and documented failures of the program, we think hardworking Kansans and their families deserve to know whether their tax dollars are being wasted on the program.”
STAR Bonds are a corporate welfare program that allows private development projects to be financed by government bonds backed by taxpayers. Sales taxes related to the development are used to repay the bonds. There is little evidence that STAR Bonds are effective at accomplishing their stated objectives, such as increasing tourism to the state.
A recent audit by the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit raises serious concerns about the projects funded by STAR Bonds and potential harm to taxpayers. The audit found that only three of the sixteen STAR bond projects it reviewed met the tourism metrics for the program. Previous studies have also questioned the claims of job creation from the STAR Bonds program.
Read the open records request here.
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