Today we run the responses from the candidates for Kansas state representative seats in northeast Johnson County to the fourth question submitted by our readers.
Johnson County has been the economic engine of Kansas, delivering a substantial portion of the state’s tax revenue. What are the most effective steps the state could take to make sure that Johnson County continues its track record of economic productivity?
Indeed Johnson County has provided a significant amount of the state’s tax revenue. We should. We have the funds. In order to continue that trend, we must adequately fund our schools from elementary through the university. As a recent news article in the Kansas City Star noted, Johnson County Kansans are happy to pay for the day to day amenities that make Johnson County a great place to live. We need to continue to do so. A well educated work force, beautiful communities and a fair tax code will continue to attract businesses to Kansas. We need to elect Paul Davis and Jill Docking to work to attain those goals.
Johnson County has a proven economic model for success. While the rest of the state falls into economic ruin, Johnson County continues to prosper. This prosperity is due to a number of factors that lead businesses to settle here and grow: excellent (not just “good”, but excellent) education, low crime, good roads, and great amenities. Many of my colleagues in the Legislature think that prosperity comes from austerity, but the greatness of Johnson County proves otherwise.
What steps can the Kansas Legislature take to make sure that Johnson County continues on this prosperous path? Only one: leave Johnson County alone.
Maintaining the quality of life we expect in Johnson County is the best was to ensure that we continue to attract the people and businesses that drive our economic productivity. That starts with funding our schools to maintain the excellence in education that we have long been noted for. Having a well-educated workforce is a critical factor that businesses must have to succeed. The families who work in those businesses expect the best schools for their own children, as well. Education funding includes early childhood through higher education; all levels are needed to maintain the excellence required to keep Johnson County in the forefront of desirability.
We also must support our infrastructure, specifically our roads and highways, to attract businesses here. Funding through the Kansas Department of Transportation is essential to both maintain and improve our ability to move goods and reach destinations. Additionally, having specific tax incentives such as our Angel Tax Credits keeps us competitive in the race to attract new businesses.
Bottom line, the state must maintain its revenues to ensure the above. Cutting income tax has not been the economic driver that was promised, and as a result the State General Fund may not have the money to support the above requirements to sustain our economic productivity.
We need to make sure that the municipalities within Johnson County are free to make decisions for the benefit of their citizens. We need to insure that we keep Johnson County a desirable place to live and raise a family. Low taxes alone will not attract new residents (and their businesses) to Johnson County, we need to make sure that we are a state that will provide their children with the education and opportunity that they need to grow into a prosperous adulthood.
Johnson County has long attracted the people who drive economic growth, by providing amenities, such as top rated public school systems, beautiful parks, well maintained roads, and safe neighborhoods. I think if we maintain these services, and work to grow the economy from the middle out, we will continue to fuel the economic engine that is Johnson County.
The only step that needs to be taken is towards the elimination of the corporate income tax. Eliminating taxes on businesses reduces the cost to do business and would result in more capital investment, lower cost of goods, and higher paying jobs for current businesses, plus it would create an environment for entrepreneurs to create new employment opportunities for Kansans.
Johnson County growth is tied to the outstanding quality of life enjoyed here – first class schools, well-maintained roads, beautiful parks, amenities in our communities that foster a family-friendly atmosphere, and good public safety all play a role. Maintaining excellent public schools should be our number one priority. Avoiding a tax on services is also key. As a border community, we would lose a significant amount of business to the Missouri side if a new tax on services is levied, as proposed by some to make up for lost revenues from income tax rate reductions. Addressing infrastructure needs is critical to our county well-being. Future KDOT projects are jeopardized when funds are swept from transportation to pay the state’s bills. We must protect the Kansas Bioscience Authority, which has been under attack in recent years. The KBA brings key investments and jobs to Johnson County as a venture capitol investor in the agribusiness, animal health and human health sectors. We must continue to champion the Johnson County Research Triangle, a collaborative effort between the taxpayers of Johnson County, Kansas State University and the University of Kansas. The combined economic impact of the programs funded by a 1/8 cent sales tax approved by Johnson Countians in 2008 is currently reported to be worth about $80 million to the county, and growing rapidly. The 25th District is proud home of the KU Cancer Center and the Clinical Research Center, which account for 78 jobs and about $23 million worth of economic activity each year, while K-State Olathe and KU Edwards campus combine for 166 jobs and $58 million. Johnson County is a hub for job creation, economic development and innovation. The most important role for the state is to maintain financial support for higher education in order to safeguard these programs.
The most effective step the state could take to make sure that Johnson County continues its track record of economic productivity would to fully fund public education.
Outstanding schools go hand in hand with a strong economy. It is one of the number one attractors of businesses to the area, and why many of us choose to live in Johnson County.
I also believe we need to tie tax breaks routinely offered as incentives to attract businesses to actual job creation. Kansas has given away millions of dollars in tax incentives as part of the “border war” with Missouri, yet there has been little, if any, job growth for the metro area as a result of companies hopping across the state line.
Tomorrow: What are the three most important differences between you and your opponent?