Kansas One Of The 'Poorer' States, According To Study

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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June 24, 2011

If Kansas wants a brighter outlook in the new economy, it needs to make some changes, according to a recent study.

The "Rich States, Poor States" study analyzes states' economic competitiveness. This year, it shows Kansas slipped in ranking from 25th to 27th. The change had a lot to do with the increase in sales tax, according to researchers.

The study also shows Kansas ranks third in its public jobs per population ratio. And, it was the only state to show private sector job loss over the past year.

Today, one of the authors of "Rich States, Poor States" spoke to lawmakers and business leaders in Northeast Wichita about how to improve the state's economic competitiveness.

One of the main changes economists behind the study suggest is for the state to eliminate income tax.

"We think that's one of the most important plans. It has worked in other places, and this is not a partisan issue. This isn't about republican versus democrat, this is about up versus down for the future of Kansas," said 'Rich States, Poor States' author Jonathan Williams.

Eliminating income tax is something some state lawmakers say they will work to do.

"The political tides are in our favor in terms of having a pro-business pro-freedom type of agenda in Topeka," said Kansas Speaker of the House Mike O'Neal.

That agenda should also include cutting spending, according to researchers. They say one main place the state needs to control, is public employees' pension plans.

"Every child as they're born in the state of Kansas is born with a large amount of debt on their heads because of the unfunded liabilities in those areas," said Williams.

Gov. Sam Brownback wrote the forward to this year's edition of "Rich States, Poor States." The authors say they chose Brownback because of his dedication to changing the way Kansas earns and spends money.

Two neighboring states (Colorado and Missouri) ranked in the top 10 for competitiveness this year, so state lawmakers say they'll look to their policies to try and help improve Kansas' economic climate.

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