Kansas Elects a Democrat for Governor

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There is a story that you will not see much about. Kansas, the home of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Overnight he lost re-election in a series of defeats. Laura Kelly, the Democrat, was elected to office. This is after the trickle down, low taxes, model shattered the state government.

The Kansas City paper reports:

Sen. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican who opposed Kobach during the campaign, said Kobach’s loss is a rejection of the Brownback mentality toward government.

“(It’s) people saying enough,” Bollier said. “We’re not going down that road anymore.”

Voter Connie Buss, 85, of Wichita, said she didn’t like Brownback’s education policies, and she thought Kobach was too much like Brownback.

”I voted for Laura Kelly because I don’t want another Brownback,” she said.

The style of government in Kansas is very similar to what Republicans want to do nationwide. Low taxes, low regulation, disassemble the government. It has not worked because we simply have far more variance nationwide. There is, excuse the pun, a resistance to this.

Under President Donald Trump who is combative, and divisive tax cuts have come. But it is also doctrinaire. Newsweek has a good summary of the kind of economic taxation in the state.

He (Browback) proposed phasing out state income taxes over several years and eliminating taxes for certain businesses — specifically, pass-through entities, which pay taxes through the individual tax code instead of the corporate tax code. Brownback promised that some revenue would be recouped through the elimination of deductions, exemptions, and tax credits.

Those tax cuts eventually passed — though the exemptions, deductions, the income-tax credit were left intact, largely for political reasons — and the state began to limp from one budget crisis to another as tax revenue caved and failed to cover the state’s spending.

Fast forwards to the United States in 2018. We have a combative divisive president who wants even more tax cuts. We have a ballooning federal budget, and what is the solution? Cut back on the meager safety net, and other parts of the government that matter. Mind you. Kansas did not take the Medicaid expansion either, for ideological reasons. They also had cuts in teacher pay that are so deep, people had to work two or three jobs and sell plasma.

This is the state of the matter:

The large revenue losses extended and deepened the recession’s damage to schools and other state services. Most states are restoring funding for schools after years of significant cuts, but in Kansas the cuts continue. Governor Sam Brownback recently proposed another reduction in per-pupil general school aid for next year, which would leave funding 17 percent below pre-recession levels. Funding for other services — colleges and universities, libraries, and local health departments, among others — also is way down, and declining.

Kansas may very well be the canary in the mine. It is at that state level, that is way ahead in a state fiscal crisis than the feds are, that points the way. The size of the US Economy is such that the bad effects of cutting taxes as hard we can, and growing the deficit out of sight, will take longer.

Kansans are tired of the division, and irresponsible tax cuts. We have signs, even if Republicans won a net of two seats. that this is starting to happen across the country.

The returns, and where Democrats took seats in the House tell the story. It was in the suburbs, where better educated, and better income people voted to bring some accountability to Washington.

Americans like good government. We know that the combative style of the president is a turn off in suburban areas, the congressional returns are pretty good evidence of this. We also know that tax cuts are not paying for themselves. The federal deficit continues to grow, into the stratosphere.

The race for the presidency has started. Yes I know, you are tired of this toxic environment. Buckle up, because this has just started. And to be frank, Brownback was just as toxic and overbearing at the state level.

As to the canary, well, we know what happens to canaries in mines. Kansas is not in a good place. We could be looking at our future. Suffice it to say, Kansas remains in a technical recession.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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