Steve Rose

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback believes in miracles, and that’s too bad

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (left) campaigned Wednesday in Wichita with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose state the Kansan followed with a low-tax “experiment.”
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (left) campaigned Wednesday in Wichita with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose state the Kansan followed with a low-tax “experiment.” The Wichita Eagle/The Associated Press

Sam is no sham. He’s the real deal … unfortunately for Kansans.

I once thought the only motivation that could possibly explain turning Kansas into an “experiment” — his word — was Sam Brownback’s desire to make a national name and, perhaps, catapult himself into either the presidency or, at the least, a top, influential post in Washington.

But now I am convinced otherwise.

Sam Brownback, governor of Kansas, sincerely believes that he is going to perform a Kansas miracle. And I now accept that he is doing this for what he thinks is the good of the state, not just for self-aggrandizement.

His miracle, as he proclaims it, would happen by eliminating the income tax in Kansas. That plan is built on the notion that somehow, some way, Kansas can become a mini-Texas with dynamic growth. However, Kansas does not have the revenues from oil and gas to offset the elimination of income taxes.

So far, there is no denying the experiment has been a big flop. It is projected by non-partisan Kansas Legislative Research that the rest of the reserves will get eaten up next year to balance the budget, putting the state in a precarious position. And the state will be more than a billion dollars short in the next several years.

The day of reckoning is coming and coming soon.

Then will follow the inevitable budget slashing.

This is not what Sam Brownback intended. Slashing is not what he is all about. I don’t think he ever dreamed that draconian cuts would be necessary to balance the budget. In fact, he still doesn’t dream it. He fantasizes that his bold plan will bear fruit, if we can only wait long enough.

I also do not believe Sam Brownback has a hidden agenda to shrink the education budget.

But when the massive deficits hit us, there will be no choice but to cut education. Combined, K-12 and higher education make up two-thirds of the budget. There is little elsewhere to cut.

As the proverb says, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Sam Brownback and the majority of legislators do have good intentions. They believe, down to their toes, that Kansas is on the way to prosperity.

I have seen and studied all the Brownback administration projections. They make assumptions that run contrary to the accepted rules of economics, which they call “static assumptions.” Instead, they parade around their sunny charts and graphs, based on the notion of “dynamic assumptions.”

The difference between the two is easy to explain.

Static assumptions assume if you wipe out income taxes, which used to comprise a third of our total state’s revenue, you lose all that revenue. Here’s one example of static assumptions: 100-30=70.

Dynamic assumptions assume that, if you will be patient, the elimination of income taxes will bring in more revenue. A dynamic economy will be created. Here is an example of how dynamic assumptions work: 100-30=200.

To believe the latter, to put it as diplomatically as possible, is to be out of touch with reality.

The Kansas economy cannot grow big or fast enough to out-run the massive deficits created by radically slashing and eliminating income taxes.

It is not a sunny day in Kansas, as Brownback’s commercials portray it.

It is a foreboding time, and the ugly storm has only begun.

It will not be much solace when Sam Brownback has to say he’s sorry to the people of Kansas for a failed experiment that deeply damaged a great state.

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