Economic Development and Job Growth
The private sector creates jobs and spurs economic development. Our economy was built on the principles of a free market and free enterprise. The flow of capital and labor has allowed America to prosper. We must not lose sight of these core economic principles. Our challenge is to find a proper policy and regulatory balance between fostering a vibrant, growing economy and protecting individual safety and public health.
Unwarranted and excessive government rules and regulations are a burden on business operations. When I talk to business owners, their #1 complaint is compliance with federal regulations, and the lack of understanding from Washington how things work in Kansas. Government regulation affects more than business, it truly reaches into every aspect of our lives. A key concern for today’s public and private sector leaders is to find a reasonable balance in the ever-growing scope and complexity of government regulation.
Public investment of tax dollars in our state highways and energy infrastructure needs to remain a priority. This is both an economic development issue as well as a public safety issue. State highways must be properly maintained to meet the growing demands of the state’s urban, suburban, and rural communities.
Job training programs supported by tax dollars are important because they serve the same purposes and public goals of higher and technical education. Kansas needs a well-trained workforce and the creation of public-private partnerships to offer job skills which complement our overall state economic development strategies. A striking difference is job training can help a person learn a new job skill or expand their skill set to become more competitive or employable.
Kansas has historically relied on the 3-legged stool approach to tax policy – property, income, and sales tax – to fund state government. The 2012 and 2013 Legislature significantly changed course and is now moving to eliminate the income tax and increase reliance on consumption and sales taxes. Representative Phillips voted against the 2012 tax cuts due to concerns exempting some – but not all – businesses from income taxes. Implementing gradual and more prudent tax cuts should be our course of action. There needs to be careful consideration to avoid unintended consequences on the delivery of state programs of education, health and human services, economic development, highways, and public safety.
So what happens now? Only the passage of time is going to prove if the approved tax cuts are going to grow the state economy and create new jobs. Recent revenue and jobs reports are not encouraging. Representative Phillips supports a more traditional tax policy, one that does not totally eliminate income taxes. Changes to tax policy should be done thoughtfully, gradually and prudently. Building long-term confidence within the business community and citizens that our state government can meet it fiscal obligations and responsibilities must be part of any initiative to reduce taxes.