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Kansas lawmakers reject Brownback's 'experiment,' force taxes higher

If this is the last significant chapter in the story of Sam Brownback's gubernatorial tenure, it would represent a fitting end to a failed agenda.
Sam Brownback (Photo by Orlin Wagner/AP)
In this Jan. 15, 2015 file photo, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback speaks at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan.

Just how spectacularly has Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's (R) radical economic "experiment" failed? Enough to lead a Republican-led legislature in a ruby-red state to force taxes higher.

The Wichita Eagle reported overnight on GOP officials in Kansas embracing the one policy contemporary Republicans almost never even consider.

Lawmakers rolled back Gov. Sam Brownback's signature tax policy over his objections Tuesday night, forcing into law tax increases to fix a budget shortfall and provide more money for schools.The legislation ends the "march to zero" income tax cuts that Brownback heralded for much of his time as governor.... The increases are expected to generate more than $1.2 billion for the state over the next two years.

In the Republican-led state Senate, the veto-override vote was 27 to 13, and in the Republican-led state House, the vote was 88 to 31.

Brownback, who may soon join Donald Trump's administration and skip the remainder of his second term in Kansas, denounced the proposal as "the largest [tax hike] in state history."

Bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Kansas' legislature ignored him.

If this is the last significant chapter in the story of Brownback's gubernatorial tenure, it would represent a fitting end to a failed agenda. Circling back to our coverage from March, the Kansas Republican launched a radical economic “experiment” after taking office six years ago, and Brownback’s plan failed in every conceivable way. He slashed taxes far beyond what the state could afford, gutted public investments, and waited for prosperity to flourish across every corner of the state.

None of that has happened. Not only have Kansas’ job growth and economic growth rates lagged behind neighboring states, but the state’s budget is in shambles, and Kansas’ debt rating has been downgraded multiple times.

Is it any wonder even a GOP-led state legislature decided to jump ship?

As for the national context, let's also not forget that Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are on a similar course, trying to duplicate Brownback's failures at the federal level. In April, the Kansas City Star’s editorial board offered some worthwhile advice to federal policymakers, encouraging them to watch developments in Topeka.

The president’s tax plan, unveiled by the White House Wednesday, strongly resembles the disastrous tax plan passed in Kansas in 2012.Trump wants to consolidate individual tax brackets and lower the top rate. He would eliminate some deductions and, most crucially, dramatically reduce taxes for business owners, including millions of people who own businesses but pay taxes on their profits as individuals.Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 tax reform blueprint was quite similar, and we know why. The same worn-out supply-side “experts” helped write both proposals.

As we discussed at the time, the difference is, we know how things worked out in Kansas. There’s no need to wonder how this agenda would work on a national scale because Kansas has already flunked the proof-of-concept test.