Joco Opinion

Steve Rose — The seeds of a Kansas revolution have already been sown

Here’s a somber prediction.

The April $92 million revenue shortfall in Kansas — which led to the downgrading of Kansas’ credit — and the $217 million shortfall in May is just the beginning.

We will see a continuation of revenue shortfalls, while Kansas will continue to erode its rainy-day reserve fund.

This series of revenue shortfall shocks will happen right up to the November election, when Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback will have to do a tap dance to explain to or distract voters from this incredible predicament he has got us into.

You already know why this is happening. It’s the most reported event of Brownback’s first administration.

We are talking about the epic tax cuts that have put Kansas on a trajectory toward oblivion, or something close.

Here’s another prediction.

Brownback and his mostly hand-picked legislators will still cling to the malarkey that cutting taxes leads eventually to higher revenues, if we just have the patience to wait it out. The governor calls it a “jolt of adrenalin” to the economy.

It will be a jolt, alright. But it won’t be adrenalin. Maybe it will be more like morphine, which will disguise the pain until it wears off. We have enough in the reserves to cover hundreds of millions of dollars in deficits, until those reserves are projected to be totally depleted within the next few years. Then, the pain begins.

One more prediction.

When the day of reckoning comes — and it will, for sure — the Legislature will not recommend restoring any of the irresponsible tax cuts. I can’t say how the governor will react, because we don’t know who will be governor.

But Brownback’s hand-picked legislators will grab the ax, whether he’s there or not.

Now, here is where it gets interesting.

There are two camps of tax-cutters in the Legislature. Both are enemies of public schools and universities. And if there is expense cutting, K-12 schools and universities will be the most obvious targets. They make up the vast majority of state expenses.

Camp One believes that public schools and universities are inefficient and bloated. They believe there is a large cushion of expenses that could be cut without adversely affecting quality. Only the High Court stands in their way, and, so far, it looks like the Supreme Court is not willing to confront the legislature on the adequacy of funding.

Camp Two has no use for public schools or state involvement in universities.

They believe in private schools or home-schooling and look down their noses at the “liberal, secular schools” that are corrupting the minds of Kansas children.

Universities they see as for the “elite,” and those students should pay their own way, without help from the state. By the way, there are lots of legislators without college degrees.

One final prediction.

When the day comes, and it will, that the state budget will have a hole blown through it larger than a moon crater, and the axes start to fall, the people of Kansas will finally wake up.

There still is likely to be a couple more years of a Brownback second term, but legislators will be vulnerable — at last — to a rebellion by Kansans.

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