Much like the public school finance formula was scrapped by Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature because it was “too difficult to understand,” a quarterly report compiled by the governor’s Council of Economic Advisors will go away.
The report, which was designed to assure timely analysis of the administration’s economic policies, apparently also was too difficult.
“A lot of people found them helpful, but a lot of people were confused by them,” Nicole Randall, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Commerce, told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
We wholeheartedly agree with Randall about the confusion caused, although we suspect for different reasons. Adherents of the supply side economic approach likely have been bewildered none of the indicators being monitored were moving in the direction they’d been promised would occur. Dramatic income tax decreases simply haven’t boosted the state economy. Instead, it’s in a tailspin — which the council’s reports regularly confirmed.
For the governor, the solution was simply: Scrap the report. That is a whole lot easier than having to answer questions about why things aren’t going as planned.
It isn’t the first time during an election cycle the report has been subdued. During Brownback’s 2014 re-election campaign, the numbers were hidden from public scrutiny. They were available, but only upon specific request from the Commerce Department.
This time the report’s been nixed altogether. It appears a complete reversal from the governor’s economic development strategic plan he unveiled in 2011.
In that document, Brownback promised his Council of Economic Advisors “will begin the process of better coordinating the actions and resource allocations of seven different economic development-related organizations that tend to operate in an uncoordinated manner — and holding them accountable through rigorous performance metrics.”
That accountability called for tracking “(g)eneral improvement in a varying combination of these measures will help provide evidence that the plan is advancing the goal of a more prosperous Kansas.”
Except there was no such evidence to be found. All of the indicators show Kansas lagging behind the region and the nation. The governor saw no reason to highlight negative results, so instead will rely on reports compiled by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
“It includes similar aspects, including an independent and in-depth look at the state, region and national economic statistics that impact Kansas,” Randall said.
If it’s indeed that similar, then the efforts of the governor’s hand-picked blue ribbon panel of advisers were a complete waste of resources. Eliminating the report is confirmation Brownback’s economic roadmap has hit a dead end.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry