When thinking about Missouri's recent economic track record, one would be tempted to treat any positive economic signs with much joy and enthusiasm. So when the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Missouri ranks 35th among states in gross domestic product growth for 2014, one can be forgiven for treating the news like Steve Martin treats the arrival of a new phone book.
Yet should we really be all that excited? I guess it depends on your standards.
Sure 35th is better than 36th and it is a lot better than 49th or 50th, but we're still below the national average. Nor are we in the top half of states in economic growth. Looking at the data, the most encouraging sign I see is that at least we're growing faster than a few of our neighbors (Nebraska, Arkansas, and Iowa). You'll notice Kansas isn't on that list. That should give critics of the Kansas tax cuts at least a moment of pause before declaring the whole thing a disaster.
So how does Missouri do better? Well, here are a few suggestions. How about abolishing the Department of Economic Development and using the millions it hands out in economic development tax credits to cut taxes on businesses? How about shrinking the public sector while delivering better services through privatization? How about making sure we have a well-developed infrastructure that benefits all of us?
Those are a few suggestions. You can always find more on our website at showmeinstitute.org. I am glad that Missouri is seeing some improvement in its economic performance, but I wouldn't put us in the winner's circle just yet. Missouri needs to do better and there are lots of places it can improve.