Just prior to the 2014 election, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback promised that his magic tax cuts would begin working if the people of Kansas simply gave them more time.
Brownback was reeleected, but now that it’s clear that his tax cuts are never going to work, he no longer wants to claim them as his own.
During a speech at the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Governor Brownback deflected blame for the current state of the economy onto the state legislature.
He appeared to put ground between himself and tax cuts he signed, however, when commenting on the state’s projected budget deficit of $280 million this fiscal year and $436 million in the next fiscal year.
“I proposed a flat tax with a small budget accelerator. What I got from the Legislature was a naked tax cut with none of the pay-fors,” he said. “I took it because it was the best we were going to get.”
Brownback’s personal protest is a misnomer because eliminating income taxes in favor of a flat tax is a “naked tax cut,” but it’s a tax cut and a tax hike for the wrong people.
Eliminating income taxes is a massive giveaway to the wealthy while instituting a flat tax is a significant tax hike on the poor and even the middle class. Poor individuals and middle class families who were mildly burdened, or not burdened at all, by income taxes will pay significantly more money on everyday purchases under a flat tax system while wealthy individuals and families pocket significantly more money each year at the expense of the state.
There’s no denying that Brownback has spearheaded the effort to eliminate income taxes. There’s also no denying that he wants to embrace an even worse tax system.
And how is Kansas doing under the current system(s)?
After a district court ruled that state spending on education was inadequate under the state constitution, the governor’s staff said his office would work with the state legislature to develop an entirely new system for funding education.
The governor released his plan last week and the new system his staff spoke of is a block grant system.
The governor’s plan, released Friday, is to roll four major categories of spending into block grants to school districts. The block grants will include the money now spent in general state aid, supplemental state aid, capital outlay aid and the school district finance fund.
This year’s budget for those categories is almost $3.14 billion. The block grants proposed by the governor would total slightly more than $3 billion.
The actual amount of the cut proposed is $127,399,537, according to the Education Department figures.
With cities and school districts struggling to find funding under a black grant system that other districts share, it seems entirely plausible that a rash of municipal bankruptcies will hit Kansas in the not too distant future. At the very least, the quality of education in Kansas is set to plummet.
Brownback and the state legislature are well on their way toward implementing congressman Paul Ryan’s vision and producing for us a real-time example of what Ryan’s Path to Poverty looks like in practice.
I’m well aware that some believe the people of Kansas asked for this by reelecting Brownback, but I will continue following the situation for posterity.