Sam Brownback’s Magic Asterisks Are No More

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Here's something I didn't expect to write this morning.

The Kansas state legislature, which is still controlled by Republicans, has overridden Governor Sam Brownback's veto and rolled back his tax cut 'experiment.' And the vote wasn't even close.

Income taxes will rise across the board but most tax rates will remain lower than they were before the 2012 tax cuts. The increases are expected to generate more than $1.2 billion for the state over the next two years.

The Senate and House voted 27-13 and 88-31, respectively, to override Brownback’s veto. The action took place on the 109th day of the legislative session and paves the way for lawmakers to wrap up their work quickly, potentially this week.

Income taxes will rise "across the board," and on some more than others, because Brownback tried to zero them out. As you may recall, Brownback's tax cut regimen led to a wave of individuals declaring themselves corporations so they wouldn't have to pay taxes.

Brownback's tax cuts led to almost every major crisis in the state over the last five years.

Brownback's tax cuts left some school districts severely underfunded. Those schools districts filed a lawsuit against the state and the local district court ruled that the state was not funding education at a level that is constitutional.

Brownback challenged the lower court ruling, but the state Supreme Court affirmed it.

Brownback then declared war on the entire state judiciary by threatening to defund it and by signing a law stripping the court of its authority to appoint local judges, but the state Supreme Court also struck that down.

Throughout the entire ordeal, the state legislature cut other areas of the state budget to the bone to finance basic obligations, but that was never enough. The bottomless hole opened up by Brownback's tax cuts was far too deep to cut their way out of it.

The insane state senators and representatives who sought to keep Brownback's tax cuts in place say this will raise taxes on low-income people, but that's not true. Low-income people never benefited from Brownback's tax cuts. Raising taxes to their previous levels won't hurt them because their taxes were never cut by a meaningful amount. The cost of a cup of coffee is not a meaningful tax cut and that's all it amounted to for most people.

Brownback wanted to replace income taxes with consumption taxes. That would have cost low-income people far more.

  • mnpollio

    Now if only the residents of Kansas would stop electing scum like Brownbutt and his cronies to power…but that may be bridge too far for them.

  • Aynwrong

    Congratulations to the people of Kansas. I guess. Reason won the day. Sadly, I don’t expect it to become a pattern.

  • Badgerite

    Baby steps. But at least they are steps. Toward sanity and recovery of some kind of responsible political ethos.

  • muselet

    When I saw the headlines this morning, I thought I might have been transported to the Good Universe. When I realized I hadn’t, I checked to see if it was April Fools’ Day.

    Since the Kansas legislature was complicit in nuking the state’s economy, it gets two unenthusiastic cheers from me for taking a half-step toward sanity. Hip-hip-meh. Hip-hip-whatever.

    Guaranteed, faithful supply-siders are being recruited even as we speak to primary every one of the Rs who voted against keeping Brownbackistan tax-free.


  • gescove

    It won’t be enough to kill the Laffer curve zealot hordes, unfortunately. No amount of empirical evidence is ever sufficient.

    • Aynwrong