Movin’ On Out: Missouri’s Migration Patterns Since 2004 Print E-mail
By Rik W. Hafer and Michael Rathbone   
Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Missouri’s economy has grown at a slower pace over the past decade than every state in the nation, with the exception of Michigan.

Crush Capacity or Nearly Empty: Demographics and MetroBus Utilization Print E-mail
By Joseph Miller   
Wednesday, January 28, 2015

From 2008 to 2009, Metro, the Saint Louis public transportation agency, began making service cuts to its bus system (MetroBus), mostly in Saint Louis County.

Urban Neglect: Kansas City’s Misuse of Tax Increment Financing Print E-mail
By Patrick Tuohey and Michael Rathbone   
Thursday, December 11, 2014

In Kansas City Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is not being used to address legitimate blight or pervasive economic need, but rather to subsidize private development, often rewarding politically connected developers instead.

Is There a Link Between Economic Freedom and State Economic Growth? Print E-mail
By Rik W. Hafer   
Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Economists largely agree that there are several crucial factors that explain differences in economic growth across countries and states. These factors are labor, capital, and technology—or, more generically, knowledge. Just how an economy mixes together these necessary building blocks explains why some countries experience sustained economic growth and others do not.

The 49th State: Revisiting Missouri’s GDP Sector by Sector Print E-mail
By Joseph Haslag   
Friday, October 24, 2014

The Missouri economy has been growing more slowly than the national economy for more than a decade. The United States Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has data on the value of goods and services produced within each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for the period 1997 through 2013. During that period, the United States’ real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a 2.23 percent annual average rate while Missouri’s GDP increased at a 1.08 percent average annual rate. Only Michigan recorded an average annual growth rate lower than Missouri over the same period. Thus, we can summarily reject the notion that the Missouri economy grows at about the same rate as the national economy. Rather, the evidence indicates that Missouri has become a laggard relative to other states in the union.

Updated Estimates Of The Effects Of Earnings Taxes On City Growth Print E-mail
By Howard Wall   
Thursday, September 04, 2014

City governments provide important services to city residents, and these services need to be financed through taxation. In turn, taxation alters the decisions of those being taxed, and these effects need to be considered when city officials are deciding how to finance the services provided. Put simply, a city government needs to be mindful of the aphorism “If you tax something, you will get less of it.” Because of the relative immobility of property, property taxes are the most important source of tax revenue for cities; however, both the City of Saint Louis and Kansas City are relatively reliant on income taxes from their 1 percent earnings tax instead of property taxes. There is strong evidence that the economies of Saint Louis City and Kansas City have been harmed because of the cities’ reliance on earnings taxes.

The Comparative Expense Of The Proposed New Terminal Plan For Kansas City International Airport Print E-mail
By Joseph Miller   
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The purpose of this essay is to analyze the cost of a proposed new terminal plan at Kansas City International Airport (MCI or KCI) versus a possible major renovation of the existing terminals. The new terminal plan that the Kansas City Aviation Department (KCAD) has proposed envisions a new single terminal that will replace the current three-terminal design, with supporting improvements to the roadways, parking lot, and airfield. The focus here is limited to a discussion of the costs of this proposal and the costs of existing terminal repairs, as defined in statements from KCAD officials and publicly released documents.

Are Education And Economic Growth Related? Print E-mail
By Rik W. Hafer   
Monday, June 23, 2014

If there is a positive relationship between state-level education and economic growth, the policy debate about how and why we should improve educational outcomes in Missouri takes on an even greater importance.

Missouri’s Economic Record In The 21st Century Print E-mail
By Rik W. Hafer and Michael Rathbone   
Monday, June 02, 2014

One of the more important rankings is how states perform economically compared to one another. In this essay, we will compare Missouri’s economic track record to other states so far in this century.

Justifying Boeing: A Post-Mortem Analysis On The Process Print E-mail
By Joseph Haslag   
Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Last year, Missouri’s General Assembly passed and the governor signed legislation that would provide $1.7 billion in tax incentives to Boeing conditional on the company locating all or part of the assembly plant for the 777 aircraft in Missouri. In January 2014, Boeing reached a deal with the key unions in the state of Washington and decided to continue manufacturing the Boeing 777 there.

In this post-mortem review, the emphasis will be on the process used to justify the Missouri tax incentive package. In particular, the governor proclaimed that this deal would generate an additional $2.9 billion in state revenues, thus more than paying for the costs of the tax incentive package. Quantitative analysis is imperative for a society to make good public policy decisions. Unfortunately, it is imperative that transparency is part of the quantitative analysis. In short, how did the governor arrive at the $2.9 billion figure?

Available Seats? Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Sunday, January 12, 2014

Throughout Missouri, many families find that the district-run public schools in their area simply are not the best option for their children. It seems clear that families want choices. This essay examines the data on what parents want, what private schools can supply, and how much taxpayers could save.

Increasing The Minimum Wage Does More Harm Than Good Print E-mail
By Rik W. Hafer   
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Establishing a minimum wage higher than the going wage rate for the low-skilled segment of the working population will harm many of the very workers for whom the minimum wage is supposed to help.

What Makes a Good Tax Structure Print E-mail
By Joseph Haslag and Haleigh Albers   
Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Tax reform is not limited to dealing with the complexity of the tax code. It is also about answering the question: what kind of taxes do the least harm to Missourians?

New Evidence of the Effects of City Earnings Taxes on Growth Print E-mail
By Howard Wall with Foreword by David Stokes and Michael Rathbone   
Monday, September 30, 2013

Although the theory behind replacing earnings taxes with other revenue sources is fairly straightforward, its empirical importance has not been settled. The purpose of the present essay is to offer a new perspective on the possible empirical implications of city earnings taxes in Saint Louis and Kansas City. Updated October 1, 2013, with a foreword by David Stokes and Michael Rathbone.

The Power To Lead: Analysis Of Superintendent Survey Responses Regarding Teacher Tenure Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D. and Kacie Barnes   
Monday, August 19, 2013

Of all the decisions an employer must make, none may be as important as staffing. This does not just include who they hire, but also who they fire. An effective leader should be able to identify those who are not performing at an acceptable level, work with that individual to help them improve, and terminate him or her when necessary. But what if state law does not provide such flexibility? What if the employer is required to give the employee 90 working days to improve before finally being able to dismiss the employee and replace him or her with a higherquality employee? That type of regulation does not seem optimal for a business’ success, but it is exactly the position in which Missouri school leaders find themselves. In many instances, these restrictions limit the power principals and superintendents have to effectively lead their schools.

Redefining Public Education Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Friday, July 26, 2013

Show-Me Institute Education Policy Analyst, James Shuls, PhD, takes a look at the impact of De La Salle Middle School on education in St. L ouis, MO. Shuls' analysis considers a broader definition of public education that is focused on educating the public at large, not just those who attend publicly financed schools.

Public Dollars, Private Schools: Examining the Options in Missouri Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Friday, April 26, 2013

“Isn’t that just a voucher?” I often hear that question when I discuss enabling students to use public dollars to attend private schools. This question is an attempt to do two things: (1) lump all forms of state-supported private school choice programs into one group and (2) dismiss these programs with a word that to some has a negative connotation. Labeling all programs that give students the ability to attend a private school with state money a “voucher” may be an effective rhetorical device, but it obfuscates the important distinctions that exist between different types of programs. Even worse, it ignores the potential benefits private school choice programs can bring to students and the state.

Why We Need School Choice Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Throughout the country, lawmakers have discussed expanding educational options for students by establishing charter schools or allowing public dollars to go to private schools. Yet bills that legislators proposed often failed to gain much traction; in part, because opponents of school choice often hail the traditional system where children are zoned for a local public school based on their address. Some view this method of delivering public education as the model because democratically elected officials control the schools on a local level. Though democratically controlled local school districts meet the needs of many students, they simply cannot satisfy the needs of all families. Many families, mine included, have found the traditional system to be frustrating and unresponsive.

Passing Through Missouri: Left Behind on Taxes? Print E-mail
By Patrick Ishmael and Michael Rathbone   
Friday, February 08, 2013

Missouri’s economic growth is lagging behind the rest of the country. As we wrote in our recent research report, “Cutting The Ties That Bind: End Missouri’s Corporate Income Tax,” Missouri’s economic performance places it squarely in the bottom tier of economic performers compared to other state economies.

Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying: Government Lobbying Government Print E-mail
By David Stokes and Abhi Sivasailam   
Monday, December 10, 2012

This paper discusses taxpayer-funded lobbying and attempts to qualify its use in Missouri. In connection with this paper, the Show-Me Institute has collected contracts between dozens of local governments and lobbying firms in Missouri and made those contracts available at Those contracts will give Missourians a better idea of who their local governments are hiring for lobbying, what they are aiming for, and how they are spending tax dollars.

The practice of government using tax dollars to lobby other governments appears to often be a lose-lose proposition for taxpayers. In many cases, if the lobbying succeeds, government expands; if it fails, government wastes tax dollars. The authors hope that this paper and the disclosure of existing contracts will subject taxpayer-funded lobbying to greater scrutiny, transparency, and accountability in Missouri.

Full Essay (PDF)

Related Links

Commentary: “Missouri’s Taxpayers Lobbying To Pay More Taxes?” by Mary Kate Hopkins

Public Documents: Missouri State and Local government lobbying contracts, searchable

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