Thursday, June 8, 2017

Kansas discovers hard truths about brownbacks: You can't spend 'em and you can't eat 'em

Kansas Republicans are finally figuring out that you can’t pay for government with brownbacks. It takes green backs. The Kansas lege voted to raise taxes, KS Gov. Brownback vetoed that bill, and the lege overrode the veto. The Washington Post reports: Kansas Republicans raise taxes, ending their GOP governor’s ‘real live experiment’ in conservative policy

Republicans in Kansas broke ranks with the state’s conservative governor Tuesday night, voting to raise tax rates and put an end to a series of cuts.

The GOP revolt is a defeat for Gov. Sam Brownback, who overhauled the state’s tax system beginning in 2012, part of what called a “real-live experiment” in conservative governance. Yet the economic boom Brownback promised has not materialized, leaving the state government perennially short on money and forced to reduce basic services.

Kansas’s legislature is overwhelmingly Republican, but moderate GOP lawmakers joined with Democrats to override Brownback’s veto of the bill to increase taxes. Eighteen of the state’s 31 GOP senators and 49 of the 85 Republican members of the House voted against the governor.

Delusions we have heard before

Proponents [of Brownback’s tax cuts] argued that reducing taxes would stimulate the state’s economy. “We have worked hard in Kansas to move our tax policy to a pro-growth orientation,” Brownback said in a statement on vetoing the legislation. “This bill undoes much of that progress. It will substantially damage job creation and leave our citizens poorer in the future.”

These delusions are contagious, spreading like diseases acquired from unprotected sexual intercourse.

The principles Trump endorsed during the campaign and in the early stages of his presidency are broadly similar to those enacted in Kansas. As Brownback did, Trump has proposed bringing down marginal rates, getting rid of brackets and giving a new break to small businesses.

That is no coincidence, since Brownback is well connected to the Republican policymaking establishment in Washington. Trump and Brownback have shared economic advisers, and when Brownback was a U.S. senator, Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), now the speaker of the House, served as his legislative director.

Tuesday’s vote was a rebuke not only for Brownback, but also for Republicans in Washington who have advocated similar cuts in taxes at the national level – including President Trump. Although Republicans in Kansas are giving up on the experiment, Trump and his allies are hoping to try again.

Ducey’s delusions

And that brings me to our own Arizona Governor’s delusions and those of the other Phouls in Phoenix (see note).

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports that Arizona Governor gets nearly all he wanted in 2017 legislative session.

Daniel Scarpinato, Ducey’s spokesman, said the session included a “record investment” in higher education and several new programs for K–12, while maintaining a balanced budget.

Here’s the definition of “record investment”: “He wanted a 0.4 percent teacher pay raise for the next five years, which was modified into a 2 percent raise over two years.” That is stingy beyond compare. And that slap in the face to AZ teachers occurs in the context of a tax cut: “The tax cut he proposed, which would have indexed the personal income tax exemption to inflation, was increased by the Legislature.”

In his 2016 state of the state speech Ducey made the case for AZ following KS into fiscal hell. See Ducey’s state of the state address unpacked: Linda Lyon and Tim Steller expose the flaws. Ducey clings to the now failed Brownbackian approach to public finance - cutting taxes will lead to economic growth and generate oodles of new revenue. That’s nonsense. The KS legislators are discovering how wrong Brownback was. Our AZ legislators have yet to get it.

Note from earlier posts: A couple of years ago I defined “phoul” as a Ghoulish Fool or a Foolish Ghoul. Analogous to the dementers in the Harry Potter series, the Phouls in Phoenix come out in the dead of night to feast on the public goods.

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