Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback ignored reality and entered his own self-created fantasy land Thursday night.
His defiant State of the State speech didn’t contain any real specifics on how he wants to put in place major policy changes —especially in balancing a budget that is projected to be badly out of whack for years to come because of his reckless tax cuts.
Kansans who pay taxes and expect decent basic services deserved to hear some hard truths about how the governor has damaged the state’s economy and what he and the Legislature plan to do about it.
But Brownback showed pitiful leadership in refusing to do that.
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Instead, in the governor’s “it’s always sunny in Kansas” scenario:
▪ Tax cuts are not leading to massive revenue shortfalls (but they are).
▪ The state should continue its march to a zero income tax (never mind those pesky revenue woes).
▪ The tax cuts are leading to tremendous private-sector job growth (but most states are actually growing at faster rates than Kansas).
▪ Funding for K-12 schools is a major cause of Kansas’ budget problems (but it’s really not).
▪ The school funding formula must be radically changed (but the governor can’t tell you how).
▪ Giving him near-control of the State Supreme Court appointments would be a great idea (yikes).
▪ God is helping guide him and other elected leaders as he helps Kansas through this mess (how delusional).
On Friday, Brownback says he will propose a balanced, two-year budget. That would be a tremendous feat, but I guess it’s possible.
All he has to do is slice millions of dollars in funding for all kinds of social service programs, scrap some funds for already hard-hit schools across Kansas, take some more money out of the transportation improvement fund, perhaps change future pension payments for public employees and, well, that’s enough for now.
So: worse schools, worse social services, worse roads and more poorly compensated public servants.
As for actually doing something responsible and raising taxes?
Nope, it does not appear Brownback will do that — unless he eventually announces a proposed sales tax hike that could hit hardest at the poor and middle class.
To govern effectively, elected officials need to actually acknowledge that their actions have real consequences.
As Kansans saw Thursday night, Brownback does not appear to have a firm grasp on reality.