Not long after he made the transition from senator to governor in late 2010, Kansas Republican Sam Brownback boasted about his grand ambitions. The far-right Kansan, working with a GOP-led legislature, would cut taxes far beyond what the state could afford, in what Brownback described at the time as “a real-live experiment.”
He was optimistic, though the Republican governor added at the time, “We’ll see how it works.”
We sure will. In his first term, Brownback’s “experiment” led to debt downgrades, weak growth, and state finances in shambles. Perhaps the jobs picture is more heartening? Guess again. The Kansas City Star’s Yael Abouhalkah reported today on the state’s latest job numbers.
Let this stunning news sink in: The Kansas jobs report released Friday shows the state lost another 1,900 jobs in February and now has 5,400 fewer jobs than it did one year ago.That’s right: The Sunflower State had a “growth” rate of negative 0.4 percent from February 2015 to February 2016, the first time that’s happened in more than five years. That negative employment rate is one of the worst in the nation.
The same piece noted that, just a year ago during his re-election campaign, Brownback set a goal of 25,000 new jobs, per year, for a total of 100,000 new jobs in his second term. Eighteen months later, Kansas has created 1,600 jobs.
Put another way, the GOP governor set a projection of over 2,000 jobs per month. Since then, Kansas has created about 90 jobs per month.
It’s possible Brownback and his allies might want to blame President Obama’s economic policies, but at a national level, the job market looks very strong and unemployment has dropped to an eight-year low. The governor might be tempted to say his policies need more time, but his “experiment” started five years ago.
After Brownback signed the largest tax cut in state history, the Republican governor declared, “My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘See, we’ve got a different way, and it works.’”
When GOP officials control the levers of power, and they’re able to implement the exact agenda that Republicans dream of, it’s certainly true that the “red-state model” represents a “different way.”
Why anyone would believe it “works,” however, is a mystery.