www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Unequal pay among genders -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

Fighting for Kansas veterans -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

School reductions -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

Dress for safety -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

Does losing due process create inadequacies? -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

Hate crimes -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

On with the prom -4/15/2014, 8:57 AM

Newman proud to be in western Kansas -4/14/2014, 8:57 AM

Waiting on revenue estimates -4/13/2014, 8:57 AM

Wake up, people, and see the danger we’re in -4/13/2014, 12:03 PM

Patronizing paychecks -4/13/2014, 12:03 PM

Stripping of teachers’ due process worrisome -4/13/2014, 6:11 AM

The Kansas Ministry of Truth -4/13/2014, 6:14 AM

Letterman, Hillary and Jeb: 21st Century symbols -4/13/2014, 6:10 AM

Expensive school bill -4/13/2014, 6:12 AM

How to assist evil -4/11/2014, 9:15 AM

Taxing life away -4/11/2014, 9:12 AM

Lying about Obamacare -4/11/2014, 9:17 AM

The talk radio party? -4/10/2014, 11:04 AM

Term limits -4/10/2014, 11:06 AM

Let's do what we do best -4/10/2014, 11:05 AM

Satisfying the court -4/9/2014, 10:45 AM

Late-night funding fight -4/9/2014, 10:44 AM

‘Farmland’ — art is life on screen -4/9/2014, 10:45 AM

Tradition not changing -4/8/2014, 12:02 PM

Flat as a pancake -4/8/2014, 11:22 AM

Willing to take a bet -4/8/2014, 11:24 AM

Exposure to violence threatens children’s future -4/8/2014, 11:23 AM

Battling MS -4/7/2014, 8:58 AM

Why Renewable Fuel Standard matters -4/7/2014, 9:23 AM

Rites and wrongs of spring -4/7/2014, 9:23 AM

Coming to terms with Brownback -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

Are 'religious viewpoint' laws needed in schools? -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

School non-funding -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

Sex and race equality -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Rest of the story -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Bank on USPS to save 'bank deserts' -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Gambling and government -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Not merely water under the bridge -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Federal fine -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Twister time is here again -4/2/2014, 9:59 AM

School funding battle continues -4/2/2014, 9:59 AM

Watching for the flip-floppers -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Will Hays enter the 21st century? -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Tax breaks -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Hobby Lobby case a slippery slope -3/31/2014, 9:16 AM

Happy birthday, Gloria -3/31/2014, 9:16 AM

Unequal voting -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Protecting the pollinators -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Parties, politicians and seeking an advantage -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Healthy aging -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Threatened chicken -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

As temperatures rise, pay attention to stored grain -3/30/2014, 3:49 PM

Bizarre arguments and behavior -3/28/2014, 10:06 AM

In your dreams -3/28/2014, 10:06 AM

Against the wind -3/28/2014, 10:05 AM

Discovering the salt of the earth -3/28/2014, 10:05 AM

Entrepreneurship key to economic growth -3/27/2014, 8:36 AM

Kansas goes Kremlin with arrests, secrecy -3/27/2014, 8:36 AM

Get ready for Arbor Day -3/26/2014, 2:03 PM

Reading between the lines -3/26/2014, 2:02 PM

Switching parties -3/26/2014, 1:53 PM

Putting a price tag on damages -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Privately piercing, serious sacrifice -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Autism bill passes House -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

United stance -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Legislative session getting down to the end -3/25/2014, 10:12 AM

Taxation bill involving livestock successful -3/25/2014, 10:12 AM

STARBASE Day hits Topeka -3/24/2014, 10:13 AM

Judging based on accomplishments -3/24/2014, 10:14 AM

Who speaks for the voiceless? -3/24/2014, 10:14 AM

Fly Hays -3/23/2014, 1:12 PM

Learning from the candidates -3/23/2014, 1:12 PM

hedy -3/21/2014, 1:12 PM

-3/20/2014, 9:59 AM

Fred Phelps -3/20/2014, 9:59 AM

Is There Wage Stagnation? -3/20/2014, 9:58 AM

Cost of living, wages don't add up -3/20/2014, 4:01 PM

Legislative proposal raises questions -3/20/2014, 4:01 PM

No vote on war -3/19/2014, 3:32 PM

Wonder of St. Fidelis -3/19/2014, 4:01 PM

Protein for breakfast -3/19/2014, 2:58 PM

A pointed comment on guns -3/19/2014, 8:57 AM

Campaign madness -3/19/2014, 2:58 PM

Counting the cost of Kansas' Medicaid expansion -3/18/2014, 9:26 AM

Tax-relief spells a sure vote -3/18/2014, 9:26 AM

Tourney madness -3/18/2014, 9:25 AM

St. Patrick's Day -- The value of Irish humor -3/16/2014, 5:44 PM

Not all things are bad -3/16/2014, 5:44 PM

Supreme Court takes Legislature to school -3/16/2014, 5:43 PM

Parochial education -3/16/2014, 5:43 PM

Governed by rules, not men -3/14/2014, 10:00 AM

More guns: Merrier or scarier? -3/14/2014, 10:00 AM

The war on women -3/13/2014, 9:51 AM

Labeling the education can -3/13/2014, 9:51 AM

Taking exception -3/12/2014, 2:03 PM

Choose wisely in today's society -3/12/2014, 2:02 PM

Budget concerns -3/12/2014, 2:01 PM

Courting judicial changes -3/11/2014, 10:33 AM

House now on home stretch -3/11/2014, 10:33 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Tomfoolery in state finance figures

Published on -2/24/2013, 5:18 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

This quote, attributed to Abraham Lincoln, might not inspire a celebration of Presidents Day this past week but aptly characterizes the budgetary hijinks being played on Kansans in their state Capitol these days.

On Feb. 17, Dion Lefler of the Wichita Eagle reported Gov. Sam Brownback has been using phony numbers in talks throughout the state to justify state income tax cuts. State spending is going up, not down, as the governor alleges, and the governor's figures for past spending are off by $2 billion. Brownback also continues to spin the facts on education spending, according to the report.

Then, Feb. 18, Brownback's budget director, a former consultant to Americans for Prosperity who is reported to be a CPA, fell on his sword and apologized for giving the governor one of the faulty numbers.

Added to this flimflam, Brownback tax-cut guru Arthur Laffer recently was accused of cooking the books in his book, "Rich States, Poor States," the gospel used by Brownback and libertarian ideologues to justify elimination of state income taxes. Laffer's tax-cut dogma is published and actively promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a tax-exempt vehicle used by U.S. businesses to influence the nation's governors and legislators on state policy, such as state income taxes. ALEC operates behind closed doors without disclosing what businesses pay for ALEC's "model legislation."

In their report, "Selling Snake Oil to the States," Iowa finance experts led by University of Iowa professor Peter Fisher document how Laffer selectively manipulates his data to reach the erroneous conclusion that elimination of income taxes will spur economic growth. They use Laffer's own numbers to show that his policy prescriptions, primarily lower taxes, when analyzed accurately, have no significant relationship to growth in state gross domestic product nor to growth in private sector employment. Further, Laffer's prescriptions actually show a negative correlation with growth in per capita income.

In other words, following the tax-cut gospel might contribute to lowering per capita income over time.

The Iowa researchers also take aim at another assertion, drawn again from Laffer and spouted repeatedly by Brownback that Kansans are leaving the state because of state income taxes. The Iowans conclude "that taxes have little to do with migration" and that Laffer's work is based on "unsupported assertions and spurious correlations."

This devastating critique of Laffer's pablum further challenges Brownback's belief that eliminating income taxes will be "a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy."

On top of this bunkum, Brownback has unleashed an array of budgetary trickery without parallel in state history, to plug the self-inflicted multi-billion-dollar hole created by ill-advised cuts in income tax rates and elimination of income taxes on businesses.

Brownback offers, for example, bait and switch. The bait? Cut and eliminate income taxes. The switch? Raise sales taxes by $262 million, raise income taxes by $231 million on homeowners who deduct mortgage interest and property taxes, and stiff the highway fund for another $245 million.

An additional litany of shell games, as in first you see it, then you don't, is proposed in the governor's budget as he retreats from adequate funding of core state services and abandonment of prior state commitments.

All this tomfoolery undermines the integrity of state finance as well as the credibility of Brownback as he pursues his all-in experiment to eliminate state income taxes based untested dogmas. Kansans should be wary of his claims, grip tightly onto their pocketbooks, and prepare to hold him and his legislative allies accountable for their taxing and spending shenanigans.

H. Edward Flentje is a professor Wichita State University.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos