JEFFERSON CITY — A girl in a new television ad wants to know how Missouri will respond to tax cuts taking effect next year in neighboring Kansas, highlighting the most recent round in an economic development competition between the neighboring states.
The ad, sponsored by the recently created group Save Missouri Jobs, is an effort to encourage residents, businesses and leaders to push for action from Missouri government. It began running this week.
Woody Cozad, the group's spokesman and the former Missouri Republican Party chairman, said Wednesday that the organization is advocating for action but not a particular response.
"Nothing will happen in Jefferson City if the western side of the state doesn't send the message that something has to be done," Cozad said. "So we're trying to get everybody aroused to say to their legislators, 'Get down there to Jeff City and tell the folks from the rest of the state that we've got to act, that the status quo is simply not an option.'"
Cozad, also a lobbyist, said the situation could "be really ugly" for Missouri if the state does not respond to new tax breaks enacted in Kansas.
Kansas is cutting individual income tax rates for 2013 and eliminating income taxes for the owners of 191,000 businesses. The top rate for all individual income taxpayers is to drop to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent. A business tax break targets the owners of partnerships, sole proprietorships and other small companies by excusing them from taxes on earnings that they currently must report as individual income tax filers.
Missouri levies a 6 percent tax on income exceeding $9,000.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed the tax changes into law in May. The Republican predicted that the tax cut would create tens of thousands of new jobs while making Kansas "the best place in America to start and grow a small business."
In the new TV ad, the little girl suggests that the chicken crossed the road not to get to the other side but to find no income tax.
The ads end with the girl asking: "What if people start moving jobs and businesses to Kansas? What's going to happen to our tax base? Who is going to pay my teacher? What's our plan? You got nothing?" She then puts her head in her hands and sighs.
Missouri borders eight states, but the competition over jobs and economic development has been particularly fierce against Kansas. In Kansas City, the two states are divided by the yellow stripe of State Line Road. Missouri and Kansas together have committed several hundred million dollars' worth of incentives to attract new businesses or persuade them not to leave their respective state over the past several years.