The Frugals are back. And they are livid.
The Frugals are a family that gets trotted out by politicians when things get tough, like in a recession. You hear a lot about them in state capitols.
“Government needs to live within its means just like our hardworking, frugal families,” politicians will say. Or something to that effect.
Usually the Frugals don’t mind being held up as an example. They’re pretty proud of it, in fact, even though they think government as a whole can be penny wise and pound foolish. Not maintaining roads on a regular basis, for instance, costs money in the long run.
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But Kansas. Kansas has gone too far. When Gov. Sam Brownback and members of his administration began responding to news of a gargantuan, self-inflicted budget debacle by saying, almost in unison, “the state of Kansas must continue to live within its means, just as families do every day,” the Frugals took it personally.
Forthwith, their response:
Hey, hey, hey! Don’t get us mixed up in this mess.
We’re not the ones who gave money away to everybody and their rich uncles with some pie-in-the-sky notion that it would magically be replaced.
They speak, of course, of the deep income tax cuts and outright exemptions that Brownback and the Legislature signed into law in 2012 and 2013. The economic growth that was supposed to have followed hasn’t happened to this point, and a new official forecast projects that Kansas revenues will fall $1 billion short of expenses over the next two years.
More from the Frugals:
We shouldn’t have to tell you folks this, but good financial management is more than just watching what you spend. You have to look at what’s coming in, too.
These tax cuts, they’re like us signing away a big chunk of our paychecks every week to people who are better off than we are and just assuming the money will come from ... someplace.
Hello, are you kidding?
Even though they started the year with a bit of a financial cushion, Brownback and the Legislature must figure out how to cut more than $300 million as soon as possible so the state can finish its fiscal year with a balanced budget. Then they’ll have to cut more than $400 million for the next year.
Kansans are bracing for larger class sizes, higher college costs, bumpier roads and a general deterioration in the amenities that up until now have made the state a good place to live and work and raise a family.
And for what? The income tax cuts, even if fully phased in, will save the average middle-income family a few hundred dollars a year. Upper-income households reap the biggest benefits, along with “pass through” businesses, which are set up so that owners declare all of the net business earnings as personal income. People in that situation are exempted from paying Kansas income taxes entirely.
Talk about picking winners and losers. We don’t qualify for a tax exemption, and our income tax “break,” when you add in extra sales taxes and other obligations, amounts to about $60 a month. Thanks a lot.
We’re the kind of family that always wanted our kids to do better than their parents. To make that happen, you not only have to save in the right ways, you have to invest in the right ways.
We’ll spend extra money to make sure our kids get a good education. We’ll pay to keep the family safe. We’ll spend up front to make sure everybody stays healthy. With the state of Kansas cutting back on all of those things, it’s going to be harder for us.
Note to Gov. Brownback: Next time you talk about us “living within our means,” give us some credit for making sure we have the means. So sad you weren’t that smart.