Thanks to their governor’s obsession with income and business tax cuts, Kansas is spiraling into a budget hole — one that will of course be filled with more rubble from the destruction of the state’s once-great highways and schools.
The state faces a projected shortfall of more than $290 million over the next 15 months, based on projections offered by the state’s economists on Wednesday.
This is the fourth time in less than two years that the state’s projected revenue has been scaled back, a trend many analysts blame on income tax cuts that Brownback ushered into law in 2012.
Budget director Shawn Sullivan presented what he called the best three options to fill the budget hole at a news conference Wednesday evening. None involves raising taxes.
“The governor doesn’t believe it’s useful right now to have debate about raising taxes on small businesses or anyone else,” Sullivan said, predicting that proposals to roll back the tax cuts would fail to pass the Legislature.
But remember, right now it is “useful to have a debate” over whether to imperil early childhood education, cheat state pensions, or cut services for the elderly in order to fix this problem, which Gov. Sam Brownback created and now refuses to rectify.
It should be abundantly clear to any sane person by now that the Brownback experiment has failed. The state’s economic growth has lagged well behind the country as a whole, while job creation has been almost nonexistent.
Supply-side economic theory is resistant to such empirical data, however. Indeed, Brownback’s tax cuts were the brainspawn of Arthur Laffer, whose name is synonymous with tax cut voodoo. As in North Korea’s dictatorship, their ideology has never been allowed to fail — it can only be failed.
In defense of the Kansas experiment, Moore and Laffer now argue that we have to be patient; it will take more time to see results. While the “immediate boost” obviously did not materialize, they continue to defend the tax cuts, resorting to simplistic comparisons of groups of states to argue that tax cutting does work. They compare states with no income tax to states with high income tax rates, ignoring the basic principle that correlation does not demonstrate causation.
So even though Kansas has never received that “shot of adrenaline” or the resulting economic miracle they were promised, here comes another round of budget austerity anyway, right? Except this time, the discontent is bipartisan:
“Let him own it,” Republican Rep. Mark Hutton said. “It’s his policy that put us there.”
[…] “We’re growing weary,” said Senate President Susan Wagle, a conservative Republican from Wichita. While GOP legislators still support low income taxes, “we’d prefer to see some real solutions coming from the governor’s office,” she said.
[…] Democrats have long described Brownback’s tax cuts as reckless. Republican critics want to repeal the personal income tax break for farmers and business owners to raise an additional $200 million to $250 million a year.
Kansas is hardly alone in dealing with a Laffer-inspired mess: Louisiana is dealing with the apocalyptic aftermath of Bobby Jindal’s Ponzi scheme. Alabama faces a stubborn budget deficit without the aid of new revenue. If facts ruled our politics, these very-red states would be the end of tax cuts and austerity as a fiscal formula.
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