Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his State of the State speech to an annual joint session of the House and Senate at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.
Photo by Orlin Wagner/AP

The failures of Brownback’s experiment grow more serious

Just two weeks ago, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) insisted his “real-live experiment” in cutting taxes far beyond what his state could afford was “working.” There’s new evidence that says otherwise.
The failures of Brownback’s radical experiment have been evident for a while: the governor’s economic plan has fallen short on every possible metric. The state’s finances are in such shambles, Kansas’ bond rating was downgraded, and then downgraded again.
Josh Barro reported yesterday on the state missing its tax revenue targets once again, leaving Kansas’ fiscal health in even worse shape than previously believed.
You may recall that Kansas gained national attention back in June because it had cut income taxes and lost a lot more revenue than lawmakers had anticipated…. In June, state lawmakers debated whether the revenue shortfall was temporary. […]
Revenue numbers for July through September, the first three months of fiscal year 2015, suggest Kansas’ revenue gap is permanent, not temporary…. Kansas’ wide miss was probably a result of wading into uncharted territory with its tax reforms.
State officials are now suggesting revenue might increase next year, making the fiscal mess a little less drastic, but let’s not forget that part of the Brownback experiment includes another income tax rate cut scheduled to take effect in January.
And while these developments seem likely to affect Kansas’ very competitive gubernatorial race, let’s not forget that this isn’t just about Kansas.
As we’ve discussed before, Republican leaders have admitted publicly that they’d love to impose Brownback’s failed experiment on the entire country.
Other Midwestern Republican governors had attempted similar experiments, but they were hemmed in by reluctant legislatures and restive electorates. Brownback had Republican majorities in Topeka, which became more decidedly right-wing after the 2012 elections. This gave him near-complete freedom to create a conservative utopia.
And Republicans cheered him on. “This is exactly the sort of thing we want to do here, in Washington, but can’t, at least for now,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Brownback.
This should arguably be one of the year’s most important quotes. Kansas slashed taxes, failed to produce the promised results, and left his state’s finances in shambles. According to Mitch McConnell, the GOP leader in the Senate, Republicans aren’t just impressed – they’re waiting until they control Washington to approve Brownback’s vision on a national scale.