Our government, whether it be local, state, or federal, should not be in the business of choosing economic winners and losers. Using a complex system of tax incentives, subsidies, and bonds, not to mention no bid-contracts, our state hands out over $1.01 billion in corporate welfare, every year. Most of the companies that do business in Kansas never receive a dime, but are forced to compete with the corporations that are awarded taxpayer money. Proponents of these business incentives claim that we have to offer companies this legal form of bribery in order to compete with other states that do the same.
However, most businesses in this country would prefer to operate without having to worry about rubbing shoulders with, or contributing to the campaigns of the right elected officials. Most businesses in this country would prefer to compete with businesses that stand on their own merit, as opposed to competing with corporations that are “too big to fail”, or, too connected to fail, as the case may be.
Kansas can set the bar for economic fairness by eliminating the corporate welfare and adopting pay-to-play legislation. Pay-to-play legislation prohibits elected officials from voting on bills/ordinances where they have a financial conflict of interest. This would prevent a mayor, city councilor, county commissioner, or state legislator from voting on a bill that would directly benefit the corporations that finance their campaigns. We can also pass legislation that will force private, non-profit development organizations to open their books, when the majority of that organization’s funding comes from the taxpayers.
Coupling this with full-disclosure on lobbying expenditures will put a stop to the cronyism that plagues our state economy. If companies know they will get a fair shot in the Kansas economy, those who seek to conduct their business in an ethical manner will flock to create jobs in Kansas. Instead of Kansas offering taxpayer-funded bribes to corporations in order to compete with other states’ bribes, as we are now, other states will end up competing with Kansas to create the most transparent and ethical economic environment.
“The Constitution is the guide which I will never abandon.” – George Washington
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Actions will delineate and define you.” – Thomas Jefferson
“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.” – Abraham Lincoln
The Gettysburg Address:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
- Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863