Amidst all the weird things that happened on Wednesday, one of the low-key weirdest was Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback popping up on Capitol Hill to help lobby for the GOP tax bill, arguing that Republican senators should see it as an effort to replicate the ideas he’s implemented at the state level because, after all, “What we did actually worked.”
Now if you’d told me a couple of days ago, “Republicans just want to imitate Kansas’s failed tax policies,” then I’d have told you that was a bit of a hackish and unfair response.
After all, state and federal tax policy issues are significantly different along a couple of different important dimensions. And the Senate GOP plan isn’t actually nearly as radical as what Brownback implemented in Kansas.
But if Republicans themselves are going to invite the comparison, then it does seem like it’d be worth looking under the hood. And the basic outlines are pretty clear:
- Led by Brownback, Kansas Republicans enacted sweeping tax cuts that included the then-new idea of creating new special tax breaks for closely held “pass-through” business entities.
- Skeptics said cutting taxes that much would blow a huge hole in Kansas’s state finances and cause lots of secondary wreckage.
- Proponents said it would unleash so much growth that revenue would soar.
- The skeptics were right and the proponents were wrong.
Today in Kansas, Brownback has a 24 percent approval rating (next door in Nebraska, Pete Ricketts is at 56 percent) and over the summer a bipartisan coalition in the legislature overrode Brownback’s veto to raise taxes. Nevertheless, the Kansas Center for Economic Growth reports that state government financial assistance to local government entities is down 14 percent since 2009, leading to cuts ranging from a 31 percent cut in library funding to a 1.8 Read More Here