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Why Kansas fears Washington will steal Boeing’s tanker work

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Dec. 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm with No Comments »
December 30, 2011 1:06 pm

A recent article in the speculates that Kansas is fighting an uphill battle with Washington to become site for Boeing’s airborne tanker construction program.

Boeing is considering whether to close its Wichita plant and move the tanker completion program planned for Wichita to the Puget Sound area.

The reason for that Kansas’ concern? Washington is more business-friendly than Kansas.

Washington business-friendly? Yes, the article cites Washington’s lower taxes and higher ranking in a nationwide study of states’ taxation policy.

But isn’t it a well-established mantra uttered by the business lobby that Washington is uncompetitive because of burdensome taxes? Yes, but the non-profit, non-partisan Tax Foundation doesn’t necessarily agree.

It ranked Washington 11th in business-friendly tax policies in 2011. Kansas ranked 35th overall based on a combination of the states’ corporate taxes and individual income taxes, property taxes, unemployment taxes and sales taxes.

States that often emerge as competitors to Washington for the site of new Boeing plants somewhat surprisingly are rated worse than the Evergreen State for business-friendly tax policies.

South Carolina, where Boeing has built its first assembly line outside the Puget Sound area for its new 787 Dreamliner, was ranked 24th. North Carolina, which also fought for a new Boeing plant, was 41st. Texas, where Boeing has a big overhaul and modification operation in San Antonio, was 13th. Alabama, where Airbus had pledged to build its airborne tanker if the Air Force awarded it the contract, was ranked 28th.

Of course, there are other factors involved in location decisions including the oft-discussed question of union labor.

But Wichita Boeing workers are union members and some government leaders there fear that the Sunflower State won’t win when pitted against business-friendly Washington.

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