www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Farmers and property taxes -3/3/2015, 9:51 AM

What's next after Turnaround Day? -3/3/2015, 9:51 AM

Giuliani, once heroic, now simply foolish -3/2/2015, 9:34 AM

Money: The first primary -3/2/2015, 9:33 AM

Kansas' fate is more tragic than comic -3/1/2015, 12:43 PM

Tweeting -- and setting nation's 'chat agenda' -3/1/2015, 12:43 PM

Flying Hays, again -3/1/2015, 12:43 PM

The cancer of multiculturalism -2/27/2015, 9:14 AM

Supreme Court justice selection -2/27/2015, 9:14 AM

Welcome to Hays -2/27/2015, 9:14 AM

Sentencing reforms make us smarter on crime -2/26/2015, 9:23 AM

Presidential candidates -2/26/2015, 9:23 AM

Kochs and unions -2/26/2015, 9:23 AM

A future of guns -2/25/2015, 9:43 AM

Lesser prairie chicken -2/25/2015, 9:42 AM

Radical Islam -2/25/2015, 9:42 AM

Agriculture can do the job -2/25/2015, 9:42 AM

Brownback's first date OK -2/24/2015, 8:59 AM

Institutional racism? -2/24/2015, 8:50 AM

Continuing to march -2/24/2015, 8:50 AM

Going without meat -2/23/2015, 9:55 AM

Toward a transhuman future? -2/23/2015, 9:55 AM

Schools still struggle with religion -2/23/2015, 9:55 AM

Sacking the school finance formula -2/22/2015, 5:45 PM

Beheadings and Bill O'Reilly -2/22/2015, 5:45 PM

-2/20/2015, 10:00 AM

Kansas the Fruitcake State -2/20/2015, 9:59 AM

We know the drill -2/20/2015, 9:59 AM

The credit hour is not dead -2/19/2015, 10:13 AM

Picking judges -2/19/2015, 10:13 AM

No gatekeepers -2/19/2015, 10:12 AM

Drone warfare -2/18/2015, 9:46 AM

Fire remains vital management tool -2/18/2015, 9:46 AM

Moore stands on the wrong side of history -2/18/2015, 9:46 AM

School board elections -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

Supporting Washington -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

Saving Washington -2/17/2015, 10:26 AM

Free tuition -2/17/2015, 10:26 AM

Gov. Brownback outlines education allotments -2/16/2015, 9:22 AM

The new 'normal' family? -2/16/2015, 9:22 AM

What's best for education -2/16/2015, 9:22 AM

Tourism sparks Kansas economy -2/16/2015, 9:22 AM

Worry about what's important -2/15/2015, 4:15 PM

You can't make this up, and, well, you shouldn't -2/15/2015, 4:15 PM

Unequal Kansas -2/15/2015, 4:15 PM

Fairness and justice -2/13/2015, 9:44 AM

Overcriminalization of America -2/13/2015, 12:50 PM

Reconsider repurposing -2/12/2015, 9:45 AM

Secretary of fraud -2/12/2015, 9:45 AM

Spontaneous order -2/12/2015, 9:45 AM

Elementary 'efficiencies' -2/12/2015, 9:45 AM

Gift of gab? -2/11/2015, 10:04 AM

Gambling with KPERS -2/11/2015, 9:55 AM

Out of jail, but not yet free -2/11/2015, 9:54 AM

No eggs for breakfast? -2/11/2015, 9:54 AM

Consequences of your vaccination decision -2/10/2015, 9:11 AM

What's in a name -2/10/2015, 9:11 AM

Measles outbreak -2/10/2015, 9:11 AM

Mental disability is not a fad -2/9/2015, 9:12 AM

New genes: angels or demons? -2/9/2015, 9:12 AM

'Can't anybody play this game?' -2/8/2015, 4:43 PM

Vaccines, science and the limits of freedom -2/8/2015, 4:43 PM

Tourney moving -2/8/2015, 6:34 PM

Tragic school stories -2/6/2015, 10:02 AM

Social Darwinist 'Christianity' -- Chapter 4 -2/6/2015, 10:02 AM

Fiscal insanity -2/5/2015, 9:45 AM

Parasites all around -2/5/2015, 9:45 AM

Bigger dictionaries -2/5/2015, 9:45 AM

Something obscene about civil asset forfeitures -2/4/2015, 10:05 AM

Feeding children -2/4/2015, 10:05 AM

Stop fowl play -2/4/2015, 10:04 AM

The 'Kansas Experiment' -2/3/2015, 9:48 AM

Free college -2/3/2015, 9:48 AM

Gun rights -2/3/2015, 9:48 AM

Clearly, it's still a mess -2/3/2015, 9:48 AM

Public business -2/3/2015, 9:48 AM

The governor's budget -2/2/2015, 9:14 AM

Committee hearings ongoing -2/2/2015, 9:13 AM

Pontiff wrong on freedom of expression -2/2/2015, 9:12 AM

Indiana's 'JustIn' thankfully on the way out -2/2/2015, 9:12 AM

Coming home in an unexpected manner -2/1/2015, 2:17 PM

The myth of the monolith -2/1/2015, 2:17 PM

Gifted students -2/1/2015, 2:17 PM

Defense against demagogues -1/30/2015, 9:44 AM

Kansas is at risk -1/30/2015, 9:44 AM

Football injuries -1/30/2015, 9:44 AM

A note on primitivism -1/29/2015, 9:55 AM

Owning ideas -1/29/2015, 9:55 AM

There's more -1/29/2015, 9:55 AM

Kansas' birthday -1/29/2015, 9:55 AM

Back to the future, locked and loaded -1/28/2015, 9:29 AM

Compromise -- make it happen -1/28/2015, 9:29 AM

Faith v. facts -1/28/2015, 9:29 AM

Counting on Les -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Building bills in the Legislature -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Tale of the tree -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Seismic activity -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Where are the good guys? -1/27/2015, 9:21 AM

Brownback's budget -1/26/2015, 9:59 AM

Committee meetings begin -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Where are we headed?

Published on -2/26/2013, 9:24 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

Until an investigative reporter for the Wichita Eagle uncovered a massive discrepancy in the numbers Gov. Sam Brownback was touting, the state's chief executive was able to boast of the remarkable turnaround Kansas was experiencing since he entered office.

Crediting his administration for enacting $2 billion in budget cuts in presentations around the state, the governor began offering other reforms to downsize and streamline government. At the top of Brownback's wish list was a dramatic cut in state income taxes. Other big-ticket items included less interference from the judicial branch, more control over the distribution of education funding, not only a refusal to expand the Medicaid program under the federal health care overhaul but privatizing the administration of the state network, a reshuffling of departments, and further calls for going down the "glide path" to zero state income tax.

Most legislators who didn't endorse the governor's plan were eliminated during the 2012 elections. Brownback is surrounded by enough "yes" men and women to push through whatever policies he'd like. Minions caution the public to give the Roadmap for Kansas time to take hold and produce positive economic results. Oh, and in the meantime, expect a little belt-tightening.

As the aforementioned journalist discovered, however, "Brownback has blamed his predecessor for a $2รขâ billion spending hike that never happened and taken credit for spending cuts he didn't actually make."

Budget Director Steve Anderson since has stepped up as the fall guy, apologizing for passing along incorrect numbers to the governor. Brownback, meanwhile, has not backtracked at all. Fellow conservative legislators downplay the error, assuring the public the mistaken figure was not used in any of their budget calculations.

While that likely is accurate, the $2 billion has been used to set the state on its current course. The public was led to believe this governor produced results by doing things differently. Support for Brownback and his policies was built on this salt foundation.

"Fiscal discipline has seemingly become a lost art in government," the governor said in last month's State of the State address.

Support for Brownback's path is so strong, even most legislators don't believe the fiscal projections from the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department. While acknowledging the planned collective tax relief will surpass $4.5 billion during the next six years, collective budget shortfalls at current spending will hit $2.5 billion during the same time frame.

In order to shore up state revenues, Brownback's administration wants to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction as well as tax credits that help offset food and childcare expenses, raid the highway fund, and block the scheduled decrease in state sales tax. Already in effect is a wholesale reduction in state aid to needy families. As these measures will not be enough to cover the gap, the state will be forced to cut most everything it funds -- including education.

Why would Gov. Brownback be willing to risk the livelihoods and mere subsistence levels of hundreds of thousands of Kansans while only the well-off receive any net financial gain? And why are other states looking to Kansas as a model of fiscal constraint?

Because tax-cut guru and former presidential budget director Arthur Laffer theorized eliminating income tax would spur economic growth. And the American Legislative Exchange Council, which offers boilerplate legislation to states that benefits big business interests, is a big believer in the so-called Laffer Curve. Gov. Brownback said eliminating income taxes will be "a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy."

The bond credit rating organization Moody's doesn't think so. It said the tax cuts will result in "no improvement in economic growth." Finance experts who dissected Laffer's hypothesis concluded the consultant manipulated numbers to arrive at his conclusions. The report "Selling Snake Oil to the States" outlines how Laffer's tax-cut approach actually decreases per capita income.

When flawed hypotheses and incorrect data are relied upon to predict future economic growth, we can't help but worry. Kansas is not headed for a short period of belt-tightening. We are driving straight into a self-inflicted financial crisis that will adversely affect the lower and middle classes.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos