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Bipartisan cooperation can work. The Panasonic project is an example

July 15—Congratulations to Kansas on the arrival of the Panasonic factory.

The case is staggering: an investment of 4 billion dollars. 4,000 direct jobs paid $30 per hour. Almost as many secondary or indirect jobs. Thousands of additional construction jobs.

Tim Carpenter of the Kansas Reflector said, “Winning the project is expected to bring $2.5 billion in annual economic benefits to Kansas. For every dollar the state invests in the battery plant, Kansas officials said, the projected five-year return is expected to be $20.50.”

What are the lessons to be drawn from this?

First, it required an extraordinary level of cooperation, on a level between state and federal lawmakers, and on a deeper level between Republicans and Democrats. A recruiting trip included U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican with an 85.8% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union Foundation, and U.S. Representative Sharice Davids, a Democrat, with a 5.9% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union Foundation. same group.

If these two people have found common cause on this bill, lawmakers can find common cause on a host of other important issues.

It also required bipartisan sacrifices. It’s undoubtedly a big boost for Laura Kelly’s re-election chance, landing, as Carpenter reported, “the biggest electric vehicle battery plant in the world.” Carpenter also noted that his likely opponent for governor, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, “criticized Kelly’s ability to grow the state’s economy.”

Legislators place the good of the state, their constituents, and communities above their own political interests. If only we did more of that too.

Kansas also bet big, putting together an incentive package containing nearly $830 million in investment tax credits, payroll rebates, training and education assistance, in resettlement funding, etc.

We are skeptical of these big mega-deals, believing they often hold more promise than pay, and urge lawmakers to form a bipartisan committee to assess how much Panasonic is investing, how many jobs are being created, how much Kansas pays along the way. , and if the state gets that 20 to 1 return. Their report should be made public every year.

We also urge lawmakers to invest in one last thing: environmental oversight. Battery production is full of compromises, and Kansas, having already committed $830 million, shouldn’t have to sacrifice an acre of land, a drop of water or a breath of fresh air. This will likely mean investing just as aggressively in environmental protection and, if necessary, law enforcement. The EPA’s own estimates have shown a return on investment of more than 30 to 1 for money spent on clean air, for example.

Having reached the agreement, Kansas must now assure residents that these investments are paying off.

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