Kansas State Senator Mike Thompson On Panasonic Deal: It's A Total Mess!!!

Credit where it's due . . .We didn't think that Kansas GOP would deride this week's widely celebrated economic news given bipartisan cooperation.

However . . . Our favorite JoCo weatherman turned politico takes apart endeavor and makes a few decent points.

Check this note sent our way by one of our KICK-ASS readers in JoCo:

Extended Quote From Kansas State Senator Mike Thompson E-Mail Blast

Here is my take on the Panasonic deal...beside the fact it's a total mess:

If we really want sustainable economic development in Kansas, we should be creating a level playing field for all Kansans by lowering electrical rates, tax rates, property taxes, etc. and making Kansas an appealing place for businesses to relocate without having to cannibalize existing businesses and residents to attract new ones.

Kansas residents should not be subjected to financing projects for which there is no guarantee of results or study on the true return on investment. It used to be that businesses had to present a viability plan to a large bank or venture capital firm to obtain financing for their project. Now, they just come before a city,  county, or state government to present rosy scenarios in hopes of receiving massive tax breaks, all the while leaving the taxpayer on the hook when it all comes crashing down. That is the new model for financing, and it places lawmakers and Governors in a position of making decisions for which they have no expertise. And, those decisions shift all the risk to the taxpayer with no accountability if and when it fails.

The government's role should not be deciding which businesses are good for Kansas.  We should not distort the market even more than it already is by picking winners and losers. Yet we continue to engage in that process without considering the ramifications.
Here are some specific concerns:

 1. I see "help wanted" signs in almost every business window across my district. Businesses here are struggling to get workers.  Now, the Kansas taxpayer is subsidizing Panasonic to compete directly against existing business owners for the limited and scarce labor pool. Where are these alleged 4,000 workers going to come from?  Most places are having trouble hiring one or two people. Every business owner I speak with tells me the same story.

2. Kansas taxpayers will be paying for part of the training of these Panasonic workers. Kansas bends over backwards to attract new business, but tends to ignore the needs of existing business owners already paying the bills for the state.  None of the small businesses will ever get an incentive package like this, yet they are the backbone of our economy. They provide the jobs. This is not treating them with any respect at all.

4. Property taxes in Johnson County keep climbing, yet taxpayers just gave Panasonic a 10 year, $1.3 Billion dollar tax break. Do you really think that there is a chance that property taxes will come down in Johnson County thanks to this new plant?  I am not holding my breath.  We'll be paying for the extra infrastructure required for this plant in one fashion or another.

5. Remember Cerner? We promised them a load of incentives to build in Wyandotte County, but they bolted...left the state...and left two big empty buildings behind. All those jobs went elsewhere.  Look at the results...learn from them.

6. What happens if the EV market doesn't take off as projected?  Without tax incentives most people would never consider buying an electric vehicle.  With electricity rates expected to climb 25%-50% over the next year, do you think that people will be buying electronic vehicles to save money?  They won't. And, replacing a battery in them costs in excess of $20,000. I can replace the entire engine in my old truck for about $6,000.

6. We don't know how to recycle those large batteries. They cannot go into landfills. Without Federal tax credits, there would be very little demand for electric vehicles.  And If that market never grows...what happens to the DeSoto plant?  There is no guarantee...even if Elon Musk says so...it doesn't make it true.

7. Do we know if there will be any issues with toxic waste or environmental issues we will eventually have to clean up at that plant years from now?  Who will pay for that? What will be the long term environmental impact?  Will any chemicals leach into the groundwater? Those questions have not been answered.


Developing . . .