Letters (June 2, 2010)

Chamber responds to Brookens? critique


The Kansas Chamber is the leading business advocacy organization, representing small and large businesses alike employing more than 100,000 Kansans across our state. Our board of directors passed a data-driven, unified agenda in support of streamlining govern?ment and reducing the cost of doing business in Kansas.

When seeking to bring additional businesses to Kansas, no one champions higher taxes as an additional benefit. The Chamber will always defend Kansas entrepreneurs and taxpayers against policies that inhibit their ability to increase capital investment, grow private-sector jobs and reduce the burden on government services. Responsible government and a friendly business climate can and should co-exist.

We at the Chamber welcome the recent criticism by Rep. (Bob) Brookens and those who believe Washington-style tax-and-spend policies are acceptable here in the heartland.

These individuals have supported the growth of our state budget by more than $200 million this year alone and supported the passage of the largest sales-tax increase in our state?s history in the midst of a record-breaking recession.

While Rep. Brookens and those who pushed for tax increases and expanded government have prevailed, their policies do not spell out victory for Kansas businesses and taxpayers. As we have said time and again, we cannot tax-and-spend our way into economic recovery, a fact proved true by our nation?s own attempts to do so during the Great Depression and several states that have repeated the mistake since then.

The most current and comprehensive, non-partisan, state-by-state analysis available, ?Rich States, Poor States,? by economists Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore, looks at the impact of policy-making on economic competitiveness, the migration of people and investment capital in and out of states.

Their research shows that states with the lowest tax, spending and regulatory burdens win the competitiveness contest. As Moore states, ?High taxes don?t redistribute income; they redistribute people.?

This is further evidence of the negative impact taxes have on our state?s economy and supports the research compiled in our Annual Competitiveness Index (ACI) and CEO Poll, which serve as the foundation for our macro-economic legislative agenda.

The data derived from the ACI and CEO Poll overwhelmingly illustrate that both hard economic metrics and job-creators in our state identify ?reducing the cost of business? as the best growth strategy for the state.

The Kansas Chamber is dedicated to doing just that, so our state economy can compete and succeed?a pursuit vital to the very existence of state government.

We applaud those members of the legislature who proposed multiple options for a balanced budget with vital funding for education, public safety, social services and other important aspects of state government?all without creating a spending gap requiring a tax increase.

We commend the legislators who sought funding for those dependent on government services without forcing additional burdens on the community. The fact remains that these options were disregarded by Rep. Brookens and those who would rather grow our government than seize the opportunity to streamline state functions and grow our economy.

The success of the 2010 legislative session will not be determined by dueling op-eds or the herculean effort to pass an unnecessary tax package. Six months from now, the people of Kansas will judge the outcome of this political process.

Clearly, Kansas voters understand tax increases will cost Kansas jobs and hurt our economy and do not address the government?s spending problem. Kansas voters have reduced their spending and looked for efficiencies and expect no less from their government.

The Kansas Chamber will continue to seek a government that Kansans can afford, and policies that will allow our state to thrive and prosper.

J. Kent Eckles, vice president of government affairs

Kansas Chamber of Commerce


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