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Report: Kansas economic growth trails neighbors

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas trails five neighboring states in 11 of 12 categories that measure the rate of recovery from the recession, according to a report released this week by a nonpartisan Wichita business group.

The Kansas Economic Progress Council's report was intended to compare the state's performance to the region and the nation to determine if Gov. Sam Brownback's tax policies were having the desired effect.

Some of the highest priorities of Brownback and the Council of Economic Advisers that he created two years ago are among the key areas in which Kansas is lagging, the report said. Those areas include private business establishment, employment, population, gross domestic product, personal income and private industry wage level.

Kansas outperformed the region's other states in only one category — the number of building permits issued — according to the report, which used data released last month by Brownback's council, The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/1i9XGxu ) reported. The six-state region includes Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Colorado.

"This is a responsible report that confirms what's really going on with the Kansas economy," said Bernie Koch, executive director of the Kansas Economic Progress Council. "It draws no conclusions, but simply presents the facts."

Brownback led the charge in 2012 and 2013 for dramatic business and personal income tax reductions that he said would bring prosperity to the state. Brownback spokeswoman Sara Belfry said the report indicates Kansas is gaining ground in the region.

"This report looks at some data reflecting the tax cut that took effect in 2013 and shows that Kansas is closing the gap with states in our surrounding region," she said. "Kansas continues building momentum in 2014 as income taxes again decreased."

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, who is seeking this year's Democratic nomination for governor, has called Brownback's tax plan irresponsible because it reduced state revenue and inhibited investment in education and other government priorities.

Among the report's findings:

— Kansas recorded 0.7 percent growth in private business establishments from 2012 to 2013, while the six-state region's average grew by 2.6 percent and the national figure rose 2.2 percent.

— Kansas' job growth improved by 0.9 percent during the same period, compared with 1.5 percent in the region and 2.1 percent nationally.

— Kansas' population grew 0.3 percent during that one-year span, while it rose 0.7 percent in the region and nationally.

— Kansas' gross domestic product grew 3.1 percent, compared with 3.6 percent in the region and 4.1 percent nationwide from 2011 to 2012.

Personal income, private industry wages and several other categories followed the same general trend.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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