Missouri’s “Subsidies-for-Development Disease”
An editorial in the Kansas City Star argues that Missouri should stop training companies to expect subsidies. It describes the phenomenon as a “subsidies-for-development disease [that] has become dangerously pervasive” in Missouri. This is something that contributors to Show–Me Daily have been arguing all along, and I am glad that others are beginning to assess tax credit programs critically.
Here’s one of the editorial‘s major points:
It’s understandable that lawmakers would want to do something to protect the Claycomo jobs in the face of competing offers from other states that are equally shameless. Yet the whole process, despite the studied silence of Ford, had the feel of extortion. Ford never had to say a thing, but everyone knew the company was expecting something.
Ford expects handouts from other states too, despite the fact that it’s a profitable, private company. Ford is playing a game, and it is one that a state like Missouri can’t win. Unfortunately for taxpayers, Ford is not the only company playing — many other companies in other industries also pit states against each other in search of the biggest handout.
Additionally, from the editorial (emphasis mine):
“[Offering incentives] always has an unsavory feel,” said economist Chris Kuehl of Kansas City-based Armada Corporate Intelligence. “It’s not unlike the sports guy, dangling six different teams.” Kuehl said he actually heard someone compare the Ford deal to the bidding war over NBA star LeBron James.
Is Kuehl a Show-Me Daily reader? Perhaps the someone he refers to was Joseph Steelman, who made that exact comparison in a recent blog post. Or perhaps that person was myself, because I also previously discussed how the bidding war over James is an example of how taxes can incite people and businesses to change their behavior.