Yael T. Abouhalkah

Meet Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Mr. Irrelevant?

Why is this man smiling? Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax plan, unveiled Saturday, was completely ignored as the Senate met over the weekend.
Why is this man smiling? Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax plan, unveiled Saturday, was completely ignored as the Senate met over the weekend. AP

Well, this is embarrassing for Gov. Sam Brownback: In the space of 36 hours, he appeared to become Mr. Irrelevant to Kansans and their state lawmakers.

On Saturday morning, Brownback introduced a huge sales tax increase package, saying he was swooping in to help balance the next budget.

But by Sunday night, the Kansas Senate had tentatively endorsed decreasing the sales tax to 5.95 percent.

In addition, the senators were suddenly looking to end about $600 million or so of tax exemptions a year now used by schools, hospitals, Boy and Girl Scouts and others.

Yes, that would be a tax increase on all those groups, and others, put in place by the Republican-dominated Legislature.

And no, Brownback had not brought the exemptions up in his Saturday press conference, and for good reasons: The Legislature has had no debate at all on this incredibly disruptive proposal — at least before late Sunday night.

Meanwhile, the senators weren’t talking at all about the governor’s plan to hike the sales tax and remove the income tax burden from several hundred thousand low-income taxpayers, as Brownback also had suggested.

By early Monday morning, though, the Senate had finally defeated the bad idea to kill the tax exemptions.

And they were moving on to consider a plan that might include some of Brownback’s ideas from Saturday.

So Brownback still might win in the end.

If any package gets to him with a sales tax cut, great, Brownback gets to brag that he gave that his stamp of approval (never mind the fact that he actually had wanted to boost that tax to 6.65 percent).

Brownback still has not been much of a leader in Kansas’ time of fiscal crisis.

Then again, he’s the once who created the biggest part of that crisis by signing the 2012 tax cuts into law. So the governor’s value to the process in 2015 has been questionable from the start.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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