Memo to Rep. English: After huge tax cuts for the rich, Kansas’s economy is foundering

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REP. KEITH ENGLISH (D-Florissant) (right) entering the House chamber to cast his vote in favor of tax cuts for the rich and economic calamity for the state budget. – Show Me Progress photo
REP. KEITH ENGLISH (D-Florissant) (right) entering the House chamber to cast his vote in favor of tax cuts for the rich and economic calamity for the state budget.
– Show Me Progress photo

(EDITOR’S NOTE: When union member State Representative Keith English (D- Florissant) provided the one pivotal vote to override Governor Nixon’s veto of the income tax cut proposal the governor said was a tax cut for the rich, English said he bucked his Democratic colleagues to provide workers with a tax break [a family earning $44,000 annually would save $32], protect education and to improve the state’s economy. Let’s see how that approach is working in neighboring Kansas.)

In a time of slack economic growth and high unemployment around the country, Kansas’s lawmakers thought they had the solution: massive tax cuts for the wealthy would lure economic activity and jump-start the state’s economy. But after Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed $1.1 billion worth of tax cuts into law over the past two years, the state is behind the national average for economic growth.

A new forecast from Kansas budget officials projects “personal income in Kansas will grow more slowly than U.S. personal income in 2014 and 2015,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) writes.

The state’s overall economic growth is now projected to fall behind the nation’s after two decades of keeping pace, the think tank adds.

DIRE PREDICTIONS COMING TRUE

At the same time that Brownback’s promised economic growth is failing to materialize, his criticspredictions about the tax cuts are largely coming true:

• The tax package is starving the state of revenue. With less money coming in, Kansas is cutting public services.

• The state Supreme Court has ordered lawmakers to restore funding to poor school districts…but given the state’s revenue problems, the way that the legislature is going about correcting the underfunding problem simply takes money away from other schools that need it.

• Things for the neediest people in the state are getting worse. Last fall, Census data revealed that the poverty rate in Kansas had risen each year since the governor was elected after vowing to reduce child poverty.

Brownback’s official response to the state’s poverty problem?

• Encouraging traditional family structures through eight-hour “pre-marital education” classes for couples wishing to wed.

• Kicking tens of thousands of residents off of food stamps so that they will “work harder.”

• Finding mentors for the state’s kids.

(Edited and reprinted from ThinkProgress.)

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