He’s a quitter.
That’s what Gov. Sam Brownback is. He has quit on his state, he has quit on the people who elected him, he has quit on everybody.
He’s bailing out when his state — literally — is on fire.
What else can you say about a governor who’s likely to be hitting the road to take a job in the Trump administration while leaving behind what may be the biggest mess since Free-Staters and pro-slavery settlers battled over that ugly issue in the run-up to the Civil War?
Yes, the state may be better off without him. Many of us can agree on that. But that’s not the point. Brownback dug the state into a financial hole so deep we still can’t see the sunshine, and he’s duty-bound by the solemn oath he took when he was inaugurated to finish the job.
That oath reads in part that he will “faithfully discharge the duties of the office of governor.”
Seems to me that closing a $1 billion budget gap falls into that category.
In all my years of covering politics, I’ve never seen anything like it. The Sam Brownback I know is better than this. He’s a decent man with honest intentions who has been under enormous strain in the years since he signed those much-ballyhooed tax cuts in 2012.
That pressure, which I wouldn’t wish on anybody, must have finally gotten to him.
But don’t think he wasn’t warned that the state would fly off the fiscal cliff if he signed those cuts into law. The bill he approved was not the legislation he wanted, at least not at first. His original proposal also would have slashed taxes, but the plan was paid for by eliminating a series of tax credits and deductions, including one that ended tax breaks for home mortgages.
That move proved so unpopular that lawmakers backed off. Then the House and Senate played a high-stakes game of legislative chicken on a second plan.
The result was passage of the less favorable measure, and that’s the one Brownback signed, perhaps thinking that he wouldn’t get another shot at such a big tax cut.
Brownback famously said the sharply lower taxes would serve as a “shot of adrenaline” to the Kansas economy.
On the day he signed it, the governor pledged to “move forward and make it work and take care of our fundamental services.”
On the same day, critics asserted that the cuts would impact almost every aspect of state government, including the social safety net and public schools.
The critics were right. Brownback was wrong. Now he may not be around to fix financial problems that will plague Kansas for at least another generation. Or two. Or maybe even three.
It’s the very least he could’ve done.
If he opts for greener pastures, that means he’s a quitter — pure and simple.