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Group wants to stop Missouri-Kansas border war

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Businesses are being poached across state lines, but now a group has come together hoping to bring peace to the border war.

The Kansas City metro stretches across two states. State Line Road is the dividing line between Kansas and Missouri, and the competition for businesses is heating up.

Overland Park and Lenexa are two Kansas towns that benefit from their close proximity to Missouri. In recent years, several businesses have set up shop in those cities, leaving Missouri behind for lower tax rates.

While some may call it healthy competition, others see it as bad business.

"We shouldn't have some sort of race to the bottom to create jobs that don't create any kind of quality of life," said state Sen. Paul LeVota in Missouri's 11th District.

If that sounds like sour grapes from a Missouri politician, consider that his colleague across the state line agrees.

"Our local business leaders from both sides of the state line needs to step up and say, 'it is time to stop and re-evaluate,' because at the end of the day, we're not doing any favors for anybody here," said state Sen. Tom Holland in Kansas' 3rd District.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback had embarked on an aggressive tax-cutting policy which sweetened the pot by offering incentives to businesses willing to relocate.

Missouri passed a similar tax measure, which Gov. Jay Nixon recently vetoed.

Critics and some economists say tax incentives prevent revenue from going into schools and local roads which ends up hurting both states in the long term. That was the focus of a recent University of Missouri-Kansas City forum.

"In terms of the message to economic students lowering taxes, it is which taxes and at what expense. It is questionable in terms of where our revenue is going to come from," said Annie McKay with the Kansas Center for Economic Growth.

The Missouri State Legislature is now considering whether to override that veto, but it appears unlikely at least right now.

As for the border war, both politicians say the states should be working together.

Some of the biggest companies to cross the state line lines are Freightquote.com, moving their 1,000 employees from Lenexa to south Kansas City.

J.P. Morgan moved to Overland Park from Kansas City with 800 employees in tow, and AMC is packing up 450 Kansas City workers and heading to Leawood.

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