It’s been about six years since Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) announced his plan to conduct “a real-live experiment” with his state’s economy. The far-right Kansan, working with a GOP-led legislature, would cut taxes far beyond what the state could afford, slash public investments, and wait for prosperity to flourish across every corner of the state.
None of that has happened. Not only have Kansas’ job growth and economic growth lagged behind neighboring states, but a couple of years ago the state’s bond rating was downgraded because of the fiscal mess Brownback created.
This week, as the Topeka Capital-Journal reported, it happened yet again.
A major rating agency on Tuesday downgraded Kansas’ credit rating for the second time in two years because of the state’s budget problems. S&P Global Ratings dropped its rating for Kansas to AA-, from AA, three months after putting the state on a negative credit watch. […]The ratings agency cited the state’s lack of cash reserves, even after multiple rounds of budget adjustments over the past year. “The downgrade reflects what we believe to be structural budget pressures,” S&P credit analyst David Hitchcock said in the agency’s statement.
State Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley (D) told the Kansas Associated Press, “It’s just the fundamental, ongoing budget crisis that’s been caused by Sam Brownback’s failed tax experiment. The sooner they acknowledge that, the better off this state will be.”
I’m reminded of something Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum wrote last month: “This, of course, has caused conservatives to think long and hard about their contention that cutting taxes on the rich and slashing bloated budgets will supercharge the economy.
“Haha. Just kidding. What they’ve actually done is either (a) ignore Kansas or (b) spend lots of time trying to dig up reasons that Kansas is a special case and would have done even worse if Brownback hadn’t stepped in. These reasons tend to be pretty ridiculous, but so far they’ve been good enough to keep the rubes in line. And that’s what matters, right?”
In 2012, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said of Brownback’s radical economic experiment, “This is exactly the sort of thing we want to do here, in Washington.”
Oddly enough, I haven’t heard McConnell repeat this line lately.