Austerity in Kansas
In 2004, Thomas Frank wrote “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” a book that explored the rise of populist anti-elite conservatism in his home state. Now, we know the answer.
Gov. Sam Brownback, a minion of the Koch brothers, came into office in 2011 with plans to implement a conservative legislative agenda, including repealing the state income tax. He didn’t fully succeed in ending the income tax, but, as an incentive to attracting new business, he was able to repeal the income tax on small business.
The results have been dramatic. Tax revenue for 2013-14 fiscal year is down by $700 million. For the three years following the 2008 financial collapse Kansas tax revenue fell only $600 million. As a result, Kansas has cut education funding to the point that their Supreme Court has found the Brownback administration in violation of the Kansas Constitution.
The Kansas economy is not only lagging its neighbors, their employment has yet to return to pre-recession levels. So much for new business.
In a final blow, Moody’s downgraded their bond rating earlier this month.
Kansas is predictably showing us that tax cuts, spending cuts and deregulation are not the answer to economic well-being.