Yael T. Abouhalkah

Desperate Kansas GOP lawmakers want to ignore history of reckless tax cuts

Here’s history in the making: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on May 22, 2012, signed a large income tax cut into state law.
Here’s history in the making: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on May 22, 2012, signed a large income tax cut into state law. AP

Some Kansas Republican lawmakers say they are shocked that their irresponsible and costly 2012 income tax cuts have decimated the state budget.

However, as we’ll see in a moment, history shows that some of the main problems with the tax cuts were spelled out to GOP legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback four years ago.

Sen. Jim Denning of Overland Park now says he wants to repeal part of the tax cuts for many small businesses and farmers.

“We let 330,000 folks have a free ride,” Denning said Thursday.

That’s unfortunately true. But Denning should have known much of that when he voted for the 2012 tax cuts — if he had read details about the legislation, that is.

Sen. Jeff King of Independence said the 2012 tax cuts that passed on his watch weren’t intended to exempt all income for certain businesses.

“That’s not fair,” he said Thursday.

Again, that’s true. But King should have realized that could happen — if he had paid attention to what other people were saying at the time.

Kansans should wisely ignore all of these misdirection ploys by politicians in 2016.

Here’s what history reveals.

One of the smoking guns is from the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C.

In March 2012 — during the height of the budget debate in Topeka — its analysis of the situation carried this headline: “Proposed Kansas Tax Break for ‘Pass-Through’ Profits Is Poorly Targeted and Will Not Create Jobs.”

Prescient, huh?

Some of the paper’s points:

▪ The tax breaks would “make the Kansas tax system less level and create a new incentive for tax avoidance at a time when the state needs more resources for schools, transportation, public safety and other priorities that would create a better foundation for future economic growth.”

▪ ”Under the pending legislation, Kansas would be the first state in the nation to exempt what tax experts call ‘pass-through’ income from an otherwise broad-based income tax.”

▪ “All of this income would be exempt under the Kansas legislative proposals, without any requirement that beneficiaries create — or even maintain — a single job.”

History also shows that many media stories in 2012 carried blow-by-blow descriptions of the bills and their downsides.

In May 2012, the Kansas PTA released a summation of the tax cut bill that was based on all kinds of good information available at the time. One of its points: “The bill is expected to reduce state general fund receipts by about $800 million a year, with a six-year total cut of $4.5 billion.”

Why the sudden concern by GOP lawmakers about their 2012 votes?

It’s election time, folks, and the politicians who want to be re-elected in 2016 have to say something about the damage being inflicted on state services for 3 million Kansans.

Yes, it’s good that some Republicans — though not the delusional Brownback — are finally taking the state’s financial woes seriously.

But don’t let them rewrite history and spin the truth of what actually happened in 2012.