6-20: A Matter of Conscience

How is this for a headline?

Healthcare Company Announces Plans to Leave Kansas, Eviscerates Gov. Sam Brownback in Open Letter

The article was written by Jen Hayden and Brownback’s evisceration comes from the keyboard of Jeff Blackwood, CEO of Pathfinder Health Innovations. Basically, Blackwood intends to move his growing company from Kansas to Missouri. He writes:

 

“I can’t, in good conscience, continue to give our tax money to a government that actively works against the needs of its citizens; a state that is systematically targeting the citizens in most need, denying them critical care and reducing their cost of life as if they’re simply a tax burden that should be ignored.”

… In the full text of the letter, Mr. Blackwood said they re-evaluated staying in Kansas when they outgrew their current space. After consideration, they just can’t stay:

There are a lot of things that factor into this decision. For one, the company has outgrown our current space. There are no seats left, and we have new employees coming on every month. The state of Missouri is also helping us with some tax incentives, but these are minor considerations.

More importantly, there’s a motivation of conscience that factors into it, too. It’s not so much that I’m moving the company to Missouri as I’m moving it away from Kansas.

What a wonderful ideal for a business to hold: a motivation of conscience. The article continues.

Kansas has become a test center of “trickle down” economics, espoused by economist Arthur Laffer during the Reagan years. Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations… and nowhere has there been as dramatic a failure of government.

Under Brownback’s direction, Kansas implemented an unprecedented tax cut in 2012, eliminating taxes for LLCs and professional firms … and making the largest cuts in the highest tax brackets. He shifted taxes to create a heavier burden on property and sales taxes, which typically represent a larger burden on lower income brackets. Brownback declared that this tax cut would be a “shot of adrenaline” for the Kansas economy, but the reality is that the tax cuts have had the opposite effect. Kansas lags neighboring states in job growth. For 11 of the last 12 months, Kansas has dramatically missed revenue targets, falling deeper in debt and facing another round of degraded bond ratings.

There is much that I have omitted. The paragraph below, however, I think needs to be pondered.

… Brownback decided to pursue a personal vendetta against the Kansas Bioscience Authority, an organization created to spur the economic development of bioscience companies in Kansas. Brownback was convinced that funds were being misused, so he decided we needed to spend over $400,000 (conveniently, the same amount that could have kept the Lawrence SRS office open) on lawyers and auditors to pour over the KBA books. In the end, they found a total of $5,000 in misused funds, which the former KBA president repaid with a personal check. It all came down to priorities – pursue a personal vendetta at the expense of the disabled.

I think an important point to make here is that Mr. Blackwood is a businessman leaving what Governor Brownback has been calling a business friendly environment, Kansas, throughout his years in office. Brownback has been trying to put socks on a pig, particularly in the health care field since the beginning of his tenure. His so-called trickle down policies are not working. I do not understand why politicians cannot make this simple acknowledgement, address problems, and move on by doing what is right and just for their constituents. If a businessman like Mr. Blackwood can experience and act on a motivation of conscience, why can’t a politician?

These same kinds of fights are being waged throughout state and federal chambers. Often, too often, veterans are the ball being kicked around. Just one example is the oft heard proposal to open up VA hospitals to the public–rather than build new medical facilities for communities. Everybody loses if this ever becomes reality.

[You can read Mr. Blackwood’s entire letter at the Pathfinder Health Innovations blog.]

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