Kansas’ economic experiment has been anything but an example to follow.
Even conservative Republicans nationwide consider the Sunflower State’s situation an example of what not to do.
There is indeed a cautionary tale in the massive income tax-cut program from Republican Gov. Sam Brownback that’s driving upward of $1 billion in budget shortfalls this fiscal year and next.
As reported by Politico, the following Republicans may embrace the “trickle down” theory of tax cuts somehow generating economic growth, but they view Brownback’s planned fast track to zero income taxes as too extreme:
• In Iowa, state Ways and Means chairman Rep. Tom Sands said income-tax cuts should be pursued, but in smaller steps than Kansas.
• Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Arizona’s incoming governor Doug Ducey said they would rather delay eliminating income taxes as they face budget shortfalls.
• Ohio Gov. John Kasich has called for “responsible” tax plans that protect against the kind of staggering revenue gaps Kansas has to tackle.
• Missouri lawmakers previously intrigued by Kansas’ income-tax cut plan now are glad they didn’t sign on for as much.
Missouri state Sen. Will Kraus, who in 2013 cited Kansas as an example in pushing tax cuts for his state, has acknowledged the negative fallout.
“Kansas did too much too fast, so at this point we’re continuing to look at our tax policy to make sure it’s competitive,” Kraus told Politico. “But we’re not jumping — not following Kansas.”
It’s worth noting that in 2012 in Kansas, moderate Republican leaders in the Kansas Senate wanted to pursue policy that would cut taxes, but still leave enough revenue to effectively govern.
The strategy was appropriate, but the governor and his tea-party regime instead saddled Kansas with Brownback’s radical, self-proclaimed “real live experiment.”
The result was a fiscal train wreck. Now Brownback and his ultraconservative GOP allies running the Legislature must figure out how to balance the budget through deep cuts in state services, tax increases or some combination of the two.
As difficult as it may be — and there’s no easy fix — at least the Kansas mess has compelled other states to avoid the same sad fate.