Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback got lots of attention Monday for his callous statements about Syrian refugees and how his state would refuse to help people in need.
It was another case of Brownback flashing his ultra-conservative credentials while speaking out on a matter he had little if any control over.
Here’s what else happened Monday: A new national report showed that the Kansas economy continues to be in the doldrums, one of the worst in the nation, more than two years after Brownback and the Republican-controlled Legislature passed income tax cuts that were supposed to create more revenue and lots of new jobs.
So while Brownback was out making his mean-spirited comments about Syrian refugees, the real news was that the thing he can really have some control over — the Kansas economy — continues to crater.
The new state revenue report from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government included more worrisome news for Kansas residents who earlier this month saw even more cuts to public services when state revenues came in weaker than expected.
Two points stood out in the report:
▪ Personal income tax withholding for Kansas decreased by .6 percent from July to September, according to the report.
That was tied for the 5th worst rate in the United States.
In previous quarters, the change in Kansas’ personal income tax withholding was 4th worst from April to June of this year, tied for 10th worst from January to March and 3rd worst from October to December in 2014.
▪ The rate of nonfarm employment in Kansas grew at a rate of .6 percent from July to September 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014.
That was tied for the 7th worst mark in the country.
In previous quarters, the rate of year-over-year growth in Kansas was tied for 6th worst from April to June at .7 percent, tied for 12th worst from January to March at 1.2 percent, and tied for 20th worst from October to December in 2014 at 1.3 percent.
Notice: The year-over-year employment rate of growth got weaker over the last 12 months, which is exactly opposite of what should be happening if the income tax cuts promoted by Brownback were really leading to a stronger economy.
The report did contain a nugget of positive news on taxes: Kansas experienced one of the biggest bounces in sales tax revenue increases from July through September.
Of course, that’s because Brownback promoted a jump in the sales tax from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent, which the Legislature approved. So much for “allowing Kansans to keep more money in their pocket.”
Kansans deserve a governor who doesn’t live in fantasy land when it comes to the financial strength of its government and its ability to provide strong public services to them.
But on Monday, Brownback disappointed a big portion of those Kansans once again.