We’re not in Kansas, or are we?


Have you read about what’s going on in Kansas?

Have you read about or heard about how people are taking back control of the nonsense surrounding cutting taxes? Better yet, people are coming forward admitting that cutting taxes does not create jobs.

Here’s the skinny.

For the past six years, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback – who quit his job as a U.S. Senator to run for governor – has been living under the delusion that cutting taxes creates jobs. As it turns out, he got advice on his tax policy from the same economist that President Ronald Reagan consulted on supply-side policies, Arthur Laffer.

In short, what the tax cuts did create is a budget deficit that is between $700-900 million. Even worse, Kansas’ bond rating – which impacts its ability to finance big ticket items, such as roads and bridges – was downgraded by two bond rating agencies in the wake of the tax debacle.

Well, Kansans proved they were sick and tired of not being told the truth and then, they took action.

The legislature voted in May to restore sanity to government. Lawmakers voted to raise Kansas “income taxes by $1.2 billion in the next two years to fill a gaping hole in state revenue and bank money to improve funding of public education,” as reported in the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Of course, shortly after the votes on the new spending plan, Brownback vowed to veto the budget, which he did.

And although a similar tax increase measure passed by the Kansas legislature in February and was subsequently vetoed by Brownback, lawmakers did not waver. You see, in February, the Legislature did not have enough votes to override Brownback’s veto. However, June 6 was a different day altogether.

“The Senate, which contains 31 GOP members and nine Democrats, voted 27-13 for the two-thirds majority necessary to reverse the governor’s action,” reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.

The Kansas City Star summed up Brownback’s thinking the best with the headline “Kansas tax ‘experiment’ offers lessons to the nation, analysts say.”

“Brownback entered office with a strong mandate for his anti-tax agenda in 2011 after winning his first race for governor by 31 percentage points. Six years later, the governor has seen his political clout severely diminished after the state burned through its cash reserves,” write reporters Bryan Lowry and Scott Canon.

“He turned a billion-dollar surplus into a billion-dollar deficit. And that’s what’s extraordinary,” said Senate Minority Leader Democrat Anthony Hensley of Topeka, the longest-serving member of the Legislature.

Although the first sweeping changes Brownback pushed through the Kansas Legislature occurred in 2011, the pain from those tax cuts began to pick up steam two years ago. That’s when Republicans who carried the torch for Brownback began to get ousted at the ballot box and were replaced with more centrist leadership.

Their payoff came last week.

Along with the Kansas mess is the mess happening in Illinois where another Republican governor is bankrupting the state. Illinois – whose legislature is controlled by Democrats in both houses – has not passed a formal budget in two years and 11 months into fiscal year 2017, it has amassed a $955 million deficit.

There are reports of students having to go out of state for college because classes are not being taught at Illinois’ institutions of higher learning. The Reuters news agency reports that the state has racked up $14.65 million worth of unpaid bills. And, much like Kansas, bond rating companies are downgrading the state’s credit rating.

And like Brownback, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner thinks cutting taxes is the answer. He and the Democrats are at an impasse because Rauner wants to not only cut, but freeze property taxes and Democrats keep telling him that’s not the answer.

The legislature adjourned on May 31 and Rauner is saying he wants to call a special session to pass a budget.

The bottom line in both cases is that taxes fund government, schools, roads, bridges, police and fire protection and even give jobs to workers who run government. And while Floridians prepare to see politicians crawl out of the wood work to run for governor next year, pay attention to the candidate who talks about cutting taxes. Chances are we’re going to get caught in another game of “I’m more conservative than my opponent.”

This year’s session of the Florida Legislature was bad enough – tax cuts and cuts to public education funding. And Gov. Rick Scott asked lawmakers to come back in for a special session to fix the budget mess.

Voters need to learn how to ask questions. Ask candidates what their goal is in wanting to cut taxes.

Let’s just say we don’t want to end up like Kansas or Illinois.


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