Michael T. White was selected by France 2 – French Television when it went searching for an expert in the United States on the use of economic development incentives to create jobs. Mike, whose practice is focused on economic development incentives such as Tax Increment Financing, Tax Abatements, Tax Credits, TDDs, CIDs and the like, is the author of Missouri Land Use Law and Missouri Economic Development Law, both published by the University of Missouri Law School at Kansas City. The issue is of national concern in France as the president of France Emmanuel Macron recently stated that one of the major goals of his administration was the attraction of new jobs to France. France 2 chose Mike White to discuss the use of economic development incentives for job creation because the Kansas City metropolitan area is probably the most active example of cities and states raiding each other for jobs through the lure of economic incentives. Mike has written about this topic extensively and the following article appeared in the Kansas City Star:
In the interview to be broadcast throughout France Mike told reporter Valerie Astruc, that, while he would continue to advise clients of all of the incentives that are available such as TIF and job credits, he would work to confine the use of development incentives to the creation of new jobs, rather than use incentives to relocate jobs from one part of the city to another. Mike explained that using incentives for job relocation was a bad public policy and the misuse of public funds. Mike cited examples of companies in the Kansas City area moving across the Missouri/Kansas state line simply to obtain the generous incentives offered. Mike pointed out that in 2011, under the leadership of Bill Hall of the Hall Family Foundation, many business leaders in the greater Kansas City area penned a letter to the governors of Kansas and Missouri requesting a moratorium on the use of incentives for job relocation. In 2014, the Missouri legislature passed a bill calling for a “cease-fire” on the use of economic development incentives for job relocation. However, this bill only goes into effect if Kansas passes a similar bill, which it has refused to do.
In addition to being a large transfer of wealth from the public to private entities for no new net gain in jobs, White explained that the use of economic development incentives to secure job relocations was disastrous for the public treasury directly contributing to the fiscal woes of Kansas. Mike pointed out that Kansas is a textbook example of why the trickle-down theory of economics does not work. In spite of large tax breaks for upper income taxpayers, Kansas has not created a positive gain in net new jobs compared to its peers and is so broke, that it is currently unable to adequately fund the basic obligations of government: schools, roads, and healthcare. Mike ended the interview by stating that “We don’t need to repeat this experiment nationwide: we don’t have to guess at the results. All you have to do is look at Kansas.”
Let’s hope the French learn from Mike’s sagacious advice.