Who would have ever thought Kansas would end up being the state that would absolutely shred Republican economic foolishness? Granted it’s a fairly conservative state, but it’s Kansas. Not that there’s anything wrong with the state, but it’s just not a place where a whole lot often goes on.
However, since Governor Sam Brownback decided he would try to make Kansas a beacon of tea party and conservative economic ideologies, the state’s economy has been an absolute mess. Last April the state reported a 45 percent drop in revenue from the year before following Brownback’s tax cuts, which clearly put a massive strain on any kind of spending the state might need to increase such as for education or infrastructural improvements.
State Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) said back in April that the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department projected that the state would have to cut $1.48 billion by 2019 to balance the state’s budget.
“You add all of those together and you come up with $1.48 billion in cuts to come to zero. Just to come to zero, because we have to have a balanced budget,” Kelly said.
And now heading into his second term as governor to “fix” this mess he’s created, Brownback is looking to put the burden on Kansas’ poor and middle class by possibly increasing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes as well as hiking sales tax. Oh, but he’s still insistent on lowering the state’s income tax which would heavily favor the richest citizens living in the state.
“Throughout the campaign all we heard was that Kansas has a spending problem,” Kelly said. “But certainly this proposal is clear recognition that Kansas has a revenue problem.”
It’s like I’ve said numerous times before, you cannot build an economic ideology solely off the notion of cutting taxes. At some point you’re going to cut taxes to such a low level that governments cannot function properly. And since Republicans have done just about everything they possibly can to vilify any hint at a tax increase, suggesting one would almost certainly be political suicide for any member of the GOP.
This is a similar (though not exact) issue Texas is about to deal with as well. When you base an economy on horrifically flawed ideologies, it’s eventually going to catch up with you. While pushing for tax cuts makes for great politics, reality proves time and time again that it makes for terrible policy. And while not all tax cuts are bad, they’re certainly not this economic savior Republicans often make them out to be.
And as we’re now seeing in states like Kansas and Texas, when you have taxes that are too low you basically have two choices:
- Raise taxes – or –
- Cut spending for vital public services such as education and infrastructural improvements such as roads and bridges.
Then when Republicans do decide that they might want to raise taxes, they target areas of the economy that place the burden on the backs of the poor and middle class, such as sales tax increases.
It’s all absurd. Republicans do this all the time all over the country. They push for cuts to vital programs that Americans need just so that they can keep giving tax cuts to big corporations and the wealthy.
But, sadly, there are still tens of millions of Americans who continue to vote against their own interests and support this nonsense – no matter how many times it blows up in their faces.