The opponents of the tax reform measure known as the Missouri Taxpayer Relief Act are pulling out all the stops to create the illusion that the measure is bad for Missouri. What most do not realize is that when you look at the list of “opponents,” it is replete with those who either have an exemption already in the statute or benefit when government is unconstrained. Many in the media simply regurgitate the opponents’ false, deceptive and distorted claims without doing any real investigative work. Worse, the media does not report that they too are beneficiaries of a special interest exemption. Must be those newsroom budget cuts that prohibit real journalism from being practiced. As a result, the public is being short-changed.
You may have heard that Missouri is a low income tax state and that the tax system isn’t a deterrent to economic growth. You can only come to that conclusion if you are complacent in your research, ignoring the facts of real business decisions.
The real measure of a state’s tax friendliness is a company’s willingness to consider relocating to your state. Applying the adage that something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it (Albert Pujols being the latest example), tax climate is in fact a major consideration.
Will a ranking from a non-partisan organization help a state make the short list for consideration? Maybe. Does tax climate play a part? Yes. We don’t have to guess about this. We can look at some extensive research that has been done, in which researchers actually talked to people who make the decisions about relocation.
Development Counsellors International (DCI) first conducted the most comprehensive survey of corporate executives with site selection responsibilities in 1996. The most recent survey, Winning Strategies 2011 report, provides a number of interesting outcomes demonstrating the difference between facts and “factoids” – and the regurgitation of those factoids is no substitute for real research or investigative journalism.
Texas has held the number-one spot since 1999. And for those who say it’s because of the state’s oil – try again and see if you can find out how much of Texas’ revenues oil really represents. The decision makers had this to say about why Texas has held the number-one spot for so long:
Those who believe that Missouri’s tax climate is friendly enough to attract a lot of new businesses do not have the facts. Or, they are capable of rejecting the facts in order to support their false notions – or to protect their special interest exemptions, such as advertising.
These folks remind me of George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. He had an angel in front of him. He could see him with his own eyes. He could hear him with his own ears. But he couldn’t accept it in his head.
The facts are available to support the tax reform proposal. The opponents, like George Bailey, won’t accept them – even though they are right there in front of them. But unlike Bailey, the majority of opponents have a special interest in confusing and confounding people with factoids.
If it weren’t so ridiculous and underhanded, it might be funny.