Kansas rethinks cuts

Sam Brownback
Sam Brownback AP

From an editorial in Thursday’s Washington Post:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, proposed raising taxes over the weekend.

That is the same Sam Brownback who, along with state GOP lawmakers, embarked on a bold conservative experiment in tax-cutting three years ago. The experiment failed, and Kansas is now in big, if predictable, trouble. Instead of spurring a treasury-filling economic boom, the deep tax breaks pushed the state’s budget far out of balance: Even after Republicans hacked away at education and highways and fiddled with payments for its pension program, the state still faces a $400 million gap.

With the legislature deadlocked and state workers facing mandatory furloughs if lawmakers don’t have a budget by Sunday, Brownback bowed to reality and proposed raising more tax revenue.

But he bowed only so far. He didn’t roll back his steep cuts to income and business taxes, instead proposing an increase in the sales tax from 6.15 percent to 6.65 percent.

Brownback’s tax cuts were supposed to revitalize Kansas, giving the state a competitive advantage over its neighbors. Instead, the ongoing budget mess they caused is making the state’s leaders look worryingly incompetent.