We seldom comment on our local pols: too few of them are destined for “higher” 1 things to worry over. For the most part they’re boring backwater jerks, in it only for the easy money and local notoriety. 2
But occasionally one’s
stench outright insanity incompetence policies catches our attention.
Brownback is such a case.
Looking through the recent news it appears that, all in the space of about a month or so, Brownback has decided to return Kansas to a feudal economy:
- While income tax cuts for the poverty-stricken ($25K p/a) were a ‘generous’ .5% of the gross, everyone making over $25K received a 3.5% cut. 3
- Nearly all taxes on business and farm income was reset pretty much to zero.
- The state sales tax dropped to 6.15%, but only after a food exemption was struck from the bill.
- Education funding was gutted, with salary caps instituted for all teachers and staff 4 5
All of the above is in service of Brownback’s desire
to run for president in 2016 to kill the state income tax entirely, as well as his belief this “plan” will create new revenue sources.
One supposes Brownback’s reasoning involves beaucoup new mega corporations trampling all over themselves to move into Kansas to pay no corporate taxes. 6 These thousands and thousands of corporations will bring with them gazillions of employees, all of whom will buy stuff at 5.6% on the dollar.
Fair enough, as far as it goes. 7
However the hitch in Sam’s git’along is it won’t be near enough to make up for the taxes he just cut. Especially if those beaucoup new mega corporations avoid Kansas like the 16th century fiefdom it’s threatening to become -e.g. see the recent privatization of Kansas’s driving license processing, child-support collections, the state’s web presence, Medicade…and of course Kansas has already monopolized the state’s liquor concession. 8 9
$850 million in tax cuts this coming year alone.
Brownback lables all of this “an experiment.”
And as the NYT notes, Brownback’s experiment has a cost:
“Critics say Mr. Brownback’s tax cut was passed on the backs of low-income Kansans. The bill included the repeal of tax credits for food, rental housing and child care that benefited low-income residents. Because of those repeals, the poorest 20 percent of Kansans will spend an additional 1.3 percent of their incomes, an average of $148 per year, on taxes, according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The top 1 percent, meanwhile, will see the share of their income that goes toward taxes drop by 2 percent, or $21,087 per year, the report said.
“This tax bill that passed is really what I call Robin Hood in reverse, said Senator Anthony Hensley, the Democratic leader, who represents Topeka.”
The whole state, thanks to Brownback’s experiment, has become a debacle in the making.
If we had friends living there, we would be worried – it’s Reagan’s trickle down theory (followed closely by the Bush tax cuts, a bad dream) all over again, but this time with no check and balances.
- Read national. ↩
- Yes, that does include Mayor James. ↩
- While also eliminating various income tax deductions. ↩
- With the obvious, necessary exception of college coaches. ↩
- It should also be noted that the state’s school systems lost the legal right to lobby for more funds (using state funds) or sue for funding increases. Oh…and we would be less than honest if we didn’t note that Kansas public colleges are considering increasing tuition, as early as this autumn, by 9%. ↩
- Which is why Brownback is headed to Paris next week – to lure some top aviation companies to Kansas. You know…from other, more disgusting places than Kansas. Assuming such a place even exists. ↩
- Which is, frankly, not very far. ↩
- We just read (yes, we KNOW it’s old news; what’d we say about local stuff?) that Kansas also enacted a piece of stupidity that “blocks” any Federal authority from seizing a firearm from any Kansan. It is to laugh: shall the FBI ask the next bank robber if s/he would mind terribly if a Special Agent “held on to” their gun for them while they’re inconvenienced for the next 10 to 20 years? ↩
- And while we were catching up on our neighboring state we ran across this juicy bit: Brownback changed the selection process for appeal judges from, well, a process, to the govenor deciding who gets to wear the robes. No politics there, huh? ↩