Guest Commentary

Gov. Sam Brownback: The facts are clear on the Kansas economy

Gov. Sam Brownback
Gov. Sam Brownback The Associated Press

The Kansas economy is strong, and it is growing.

Yet, the deluge of negative media coverage seems determined to tell a different story. Critics of my administration have spent years publishing stories nearly every day in attempts to undermine the success of conservative principles at the state level. Attacks often focus on reforms to our small business tax policy. Former Gov. Robert B. Docking use to call these sorts of critics the “high tax boys.”

The facts are clear. The Kansas economy is far better off than it was before, and the recent changes in Kansas income tax policy deserve substantial credit.

A record number of Kansans are working today, more than ever before. Since 2013, Kansas has seen 11 straight quarters of job growth in the private sector. In nine of these quarters, job growth outpaced Kansas’ 20-year average.

Thanks to this strong job growth, Kansas has its lowest unemployment rate in 15 years sitting at 3.9 percent. Kansas is one of the few states in the nation that is very close to full employment. This means that Kansans looking for opportunity to earn a living and provide for their families can find good jobs. It will be difficult to sustain robust job growth while at near full employment levels. That reality is why we need to continue to maintain the low tax burden and stable regulatory climate that helps us attract and retain businesses in Kansas.

Our small business reforms are working. Kansas has seen a record number of new business formations, in spite of the fact that American startup businesses have declined by one-third since the Great Recession. Small businesses employ 70 percent of Kansans. Taxing small business is not the answer to growing the Kansas economy.

Earnings for hard-working Kansans are not only growing, they are accelerating. In the second quarter of 2014, private earnings grew at a 1.1 percent annual rate. This growth rate has increased every quarter since then, now growing at a 6.7 percent annual rate in the second quarter of 2015.

Nevertheless, the Kansas economy is not without its challenges. Agriculture, aviation and the oil and gas industry are struggling in Kansas and around the country. But these struggles only underline just how strong Kansas’ economic growth has been over the last few years. There is more work to be done, but the answer is not higher taxes and more regulation.

More Kansans have jobs today, they are earning more, they are keeping more of their income in their own pockets and they are escaping the bonds of poverty.

The national progressive movement wants to undermine Kansas in order to prevent other states from making changes that reduce thescope of government and empower individuals.

Yet, despite overwhelming opposition, the truth remains. Kansas is strong. Kansas is growing.

Sam Brownback is governor of Kansas.