Let’s see now: You’ve already bought that new car, but under my “cash for clunkers” program — promoted as a way to entice folks to buy new vehicles — I’m going to reward you anyway. Isn’t that a wonderful idea for you, and completely nonsensical? How will that entice you to buy a new car?
Well, that same nonsense is getting wrapped into a measure now making its way through the Kansas Legislature that is promoted as a way to increase investment in certain aspects of agricultural production, such as dairy and poultry operations.
The bill under discussion would provide more than $10 million in sales tax exemptions and corporate income tax credits to large enterprises involved in animal agriculture. The Brownback administration hopes the move will generate investment in production facilities for milking cows, laying eggs and raising livestock for slaughter.
The secretaries of agriculture and of commerce both are enthusiastically endorsing the measure, citing its potential to create jobs and crank up economic activity in the state. The so-called High Performance Incentive Program, after all, was designed to encourage future business expansion.
Unfortunately, this particular piece of legislation includes a provision that would dole out the same incentives to firms that made their investments last year. For some inscrutable reason, the Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Livestock Association are supporting the bill.
However, even lawmakers have taken note that there is a difference between the past and the future. They say that the retroactive provision doesn’t follow the spirit of the original program proposal.
“I’m really struggling with the retroactivity of this,” said Sen. Pat Apple, a Louisburg Republican. And Sen. Tom Holland, who represents Lawrence and who is the ranking Democrat on the tax committee that heard the bill, echoed the concern.
Let’s hope the echo reverberates long and loud. Approve the plan offering incentives to encourage investments in animal agriculture, but don’t make those incentives retroactive to investments already committed.