Missouri Editorials

Written by Muleskinner Staff

The Associated Press
The Kansas City Star, Aug. 11

Basic services take a hit in economic border war
Here’s one more reason Kansas and Missouri lawmakers need to stop handing out excessive taxpayer incentives to entice companies to hop from one side of the state line to the other.
This costly border war — which has produced few net new jobs in the metro area — also has pushed local cities to pile on and give millions more in public subsidies to selected businesses. Those decisions often have reduced future revenues the cities and other taxing jurisdictions could and should receive from the companies.
One prime example: Kansas City decided to pour in more than $30 million in tax breaks to woo Freightquote’s headquarters from Lenexa, adding to Missouri’s already ample incentives. The Center School District and other jurisdictions won’t get the millions in higher property taxes they should have had coming from the building.
Elected officials in both states recently have indicated a willingness to resolve the border war. To help cities and other entities provide better public services, the end needs to come post-haste.
The St. Joseph News-Press, Aug. 10
Immigration impacts all of us
At least we’re talking about it.
This must be the shared opinion of many residents of the Midland Empire who recognize a dysfunctional immigration policy is no policy at all. We join in appealing for the kind of bipartisan solution that is needed, and by a number of accounts is within reach.
In this non-election year, the volume of the political rhetoric has been cranked down a few notches to allow thoughtful debate on immigration. The issue affects Americans on a daily basis, and more than most of us probably have thought about it.
Much of our food supply, including fresh produce and processed meat, passes through the hands of immigrants to the United States. Sectors of our economy such as health care, technology and service industries include large numbers of immigrant workers, at both entry-level positions and those requiring advanced skills.
At times, as with the arrival of our large pork-processing plant, the communities of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri have debated these issues. Public resources have been strained by increased demands. At the same time, new businesses have opened, the labor pool has expanded and new neighbors have shared with us new customs.
Immigration has brought changes — both positive and negative — to the region. For the most part, we have adapted and we’re moving forward. In this case, the American people are leaps and bounds ahead of our elected officials.
Our divided Congress so far has come up short in reforming laws that, right or wrong, simply don’t fit the state of the world today. A global economy connects us with people all over the world. It’s time for policies to match the reality.
Business interests and advocacy groups are giving voice to some commonsense ideas to reform policies to reflect needs along the border and in places like our region that may be far from the border but close to immigration. A key issue is what to do with the 11 million people in the country illegally, short of deporting everyone.
In recent days, one idea gaining traction in Congress would extend to illegal immigrants a grant of provisional legal status, comparable to the probationary legal status that is a part of current law. Once moved into this category, eligible immigrants could follow existing law and apply for permanent legal residency and pursue citizenship if they met strict standards.
As proposed, no currently illegal immigrant would be granted provisional legal status until stronger border protections and tighter enforcement of immigration laws were in place.
Such a comprehensive approach to reform is needed. We encourage our leaders to take action this year before next year’s election cycle adds heat to the debate. We’re talking about it, now let’s take action.
Southeast Missourian, Aug. 9
Limbaugh’s 25th
You won’t find many people ambivalent about Rush Limbaugh. The conservative talk radio show host has a strong following of listeners who tune in for three hours Monday through Friday to hear the Cape Girardeau native address the issues of the day with his straightforward and unabashed opinion.
On Aug. 1 Limbaugh celebrated the silver anniversary of his nationally syndicated show.
Limbaugh got his start in radio as a youngster in Cape Girardeau working as a disc jockey on KGMO. Today’s listeners and critics know him as the conservative talker not shy about offering his opinion, but Limbaugh’s story is interesting.
Limbaugh has been fired seven times. Beyond radio, other career stops include a stint working in sales for the Kansas City Royals. But with a passion for the spoken word, Limbaugh eventually developed a hit show in Sacramento, Calif. The start of his nationally syndicated show on Aug. 1, 1988, was the next step, and now his listenership is about 20 million.
At times Limbaugh’s comments go overboard — something he’s previously admitted. He is at his best when championing a conservative message with clarity and humor — which he does regularly. In addition to being an entertainer, Limbaugh is a great communicator. He has the ability to sell a free market-vision that makes sense to many people.
While political talk radio has grown over the years, few have come close to Limbaugh’s acclaim. His show rarely includes guests and only a few callers, yet he’s able to command the attention of many. The Limbaugh Letter, a monthly publication, showcases his excellent interviewing skills.
There are things Limbaugh has said that we do not agree with, and at times this is counterproductive. But it’s fair to say most of us have said something we wish we could take back. The difference is that Limbaugh has a national voice.
Regardless of political opinion, Rush Limbaugh’s story offers encouragement. His confidence and passion for what he does are key attributes. His perseverance has paid off. At this 25-year anniversary, that’s the story to be told.
The Springfield News-Leader, Aug. 7
Use tax deserves a look
So, when Greene County officials began talking about asking the public to approve a use tax, we know it was a difficult conversation.
This idea is worth discussing.
Voters have heard about the county’s financial woes. They know that the only way for the county to keep its balance sheet in the black is to either cut services or get more money. No one is going to be shocked if the county holds its hand out.
As County Administrator Tim Smith said, “We’re looking at a future that doesn’t work…. We’ve got to do something.”
There have been plenty of other ideas presented. Some have been worth considering, while others have been poorly devised. None of them has been easy.
This one, proposed by Smith, should get consideration. It does not unfairly affect the poor, keeps our basic tax base unchanged and could bring in significant money. At a quarter cent, it could raise a much-needed $3 million.
It would also respond to a recent tax loss and provide a way to collect taxes on Internet purchases, an issue yet to be resolved at the federal level.
A use tax would allow the county to collect taxes on online and catalog sales, but only if the purchase is from a business that has a bricks-and-mortar location in the state. That would not only include purchases from J.C. Penney, for example, it would affect local companies, such as Running Chics, that do all sales online.
Last year, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that Greene County and other cities and counties in the state could no longer collect taxes on some large, out-of-state purchases.
That move cost the county an estimated $880,000 a year, but did not hurt Springfield or other local governments that have a voter-approved use tax law, which levies a tax on the use of an item and not on the purchase. The county attempted to get a similar tax in 1996, when the city succeeded, but county voters turned it down.
Smith hopes to get the use tax question on the November ballot. Because November elections typically have a high turnout, it would give the largest number of voters an opportunity to express their opinion at the ballot box.
We’re not ready to support a tax, but think county commissioners should start the difficult discussion now. They only have three weeks to decide in order to meet the ballot deadline — and that might not be enough time.
The county’s economic ship is leaking in deep financial waters. Working with the city to find ways to cut expenses and share the load is one important way to plug the leaks. A use tax may be a way to keep things afloat.