The failure of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) economic “experiment” should be pretty obvious to everyone by now. By slashing taxes far more than the state could afford, the Republican governor has generated debt downgrades, produced weak growth, and left state finances in shambles.
During his re-election bid last year, Brownback assured Kansans his plan would create 25,000 jobs in the state per year. The Kansas City Star reported last week, however, that job growth in the state over the last 12 months was 0.0%.
To appreciate just how ridiculous conditions have become, consider the fact that even Brownback’s allies are giving up on his failed policy. The Kansas Associated Press reported yesterday:
After he became Kansas governor in 2011, Sam Brownback slashed personal income taxes on the promise that the deep cuts would trigger a furious wave of hiring and expansion by businesses.But the “shot of adrenaline” hasn’t worked as envisioned, and the state budget has been in crisis ever since. Now many of the same Republicans who helped pass Brownback’s plan are in open revolt, refusing to help the governor cut spending so he can avoid rolling back any of his signature tax measures.
The key element in this controversy, even more than the growth failures, is state finances. Brownback assumed that massive and unaffordable tax breaks would not only boost Kansas’ economy, they would also largely pay for themselves through new jobs and tax receipts from economic activity. When none of those benefits materialized, the governor and the Republican-led legislature faced a massive budget shortfall, which necessitated big cuts to things like education and transportation.
The more Brownback’s policy failed, the more Kansas had to cut. The state has now reached the point at which the budget mess is no better – Kansas has missed revenue projections in 11 of the last 12 months – and the governor is calling for even more cuts.
Republican state lawmakers have come up with a new response to Brownback’s latest request: “Um, no.”
If Brownback won’t reconsider any of the tax cuts, they say, he will have to figure out for himself how to balance the budget in the face of disappointing revenue. “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.
Or put another way, Brownback’s plan – leave his massive tax cuts in place, while cutting public investments even more – is no longer seen as a “real solution.”
Also note, the alliance between the governor’s office and the GOP-dominated legislature is supposed to be unshakable. Let’s not forget that in his first term, Brownback identified moderate Republican lawmakers and pushed them out of the legislature, replacing them with far-right ideologues who’d be more inclined to do his bidding.
And now even some of these Republican allies of the governor are no longer willing to follow him off the cliff.
About a month ago, New York published a good piece arguing that the Republican Party “must answer for what it did to Kansas.” As things stand, many GOP legislators would prefer to avoid the question and put the onus on Brownback, not the party.