In recent speeches and talks with reporters, Gov. Sam Brownback has repeated two interesting points related to the state’s economy.
One is that Kansas needs to restructure its tax system to look more like that of Texas, which has no state individual or corporate income tax. Texas, Brownback notes, is an economic powerhouse compared with Kansas, and the lack of income taxes in the Lone Star State is part of its success, he says.
Brownback also says that Kansas has already done the difficult job of building a solid public school system and a great network of roads. He believes a change in the state’s tax system would help make Kansas even more attractive for business and industry.
But let’s think about this. The current Kansas tax system has helped develop our current school system and road system. Would a change in our tax system harm our schools or roads?
And do Kansans really want to become more like Texas? Texas is a great state, and we mean no offense, but Kansas public schools are better than those in Texas, and Kansas roads are better. We would like to keep it that way.
Kansas ranks significantly ahead of Texas in National Education Progress Reports, ACT scores and graduation rates. Reader’s Digest, which ranked the nation’s roads in its April 2010 issue based on various federal data, said Kansas roads were the best in the nation while Texas ranked 29th.
Another statement the governor has made several times in the past several weeks is that Kansas should focus on what it is and not lament what it is not. That seems like good advice. Brownback and others should move slowly and keep an open mind when considering major changes to the state’s tax structure. What is in fashion today in some circles may not be what is in the best long-term interests of the state.