Archive for Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kansas GOP right sees less spending, more tax cuts

November 7, 2012


— Conservative Republicans anticipated Wednesday that they’ll trim Kansas’ budget and even consider additional tax cuts after cementing large majorities in the Legislature that should give GOP Gov. Sam Brownback broad freedom to move the state further to the right.

Republicans were poised to maintain their majorities of 32-8 in the Senate and 92-33 in the House, but the more important dynamic was within the GOP. The Senate had been controlled by GOP moderates, who worked with Democrats to stall some of Brownback’s initiatives, but conservatives scored big victories in the August primary — then followed up on them by winning in Tuesday’s election.

Conservatives are now on track to hold a supermajority of 27 in the 40-member Senate. They also could have as many as 75 seats in the 125-member House, short of the two-thirds majority of 84 needed to approve possible changes in the state constitution but more than enough to pass a wide range of proposed laws on taxes, abortion and other issues.

Massive income tax cuts enacted this year have left the state facing a self-inflicted budget shortfall, and Brownback will need the newly constituted Legislature’s approval for spending cuts or measures to bring in more revenue — with an emphasis on belt-tightening far more likely. With a new financial forecast Tuesday, legislative researchers immediately projected a $328 million gap between anticipated revenues and current spending commitments by July 2014.

“This is manageable,” said retiring House Speaker Mike O’Neal, a conservative Hutchinson Republican and the chief executive officer of the powerful Kansas Chamber of Commerce, which aided conservative GOP candidates with mailings and broadcast advertising. “A certain amount of reduction in government is coming and should be coming.”

Income tax cuts enacted this year for 2013 — reducing individual income tax rates, dropping the top rate to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent and exempting the owners of 191,000 businesses from taxes — are estimated to be worth $4.5 billion over the next six years and are designed to stimulate the economy. But some conservatives want to go further, moving the state toward eliminating income taxes altogether.

Legal constraints on state spending increases also are on the agenda of anti-tax, small-government groups like Americans for Prosperity, and many conservatives would like to pursue proposals to give parents more alternatives to their current public schools. Also, Brownback has previously proposed changing how appellate court members are chosen, cutting out a commission that screens applications for the governor and creating a role for legislators.

Democrats had attempted to make this year’s legislative elections a referendum on Brownback and the income tax cuts, portraying the reductions as reckless and likely to lead to massive cuts in aid to public schools, social services and other programs. Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon, a former state revenue secretary, said the new projection of a budget shortfall vindicated their arguments.

But exit polling of more than 700 voters showed that Kansans who participated in Tuesday’s election generally gave Brownback good reviews after nearly two years in office.

Still, Wagnon said, Democrats aren’t anticipating changing their message, and she saw some positive signs in Democratic incumbents, particularly in the Senate, who overcame efforts by the GOP, the chamber, AFP and other Brownback allies to oust them.

“They tried desperately hard to put us out of business,” she said. “They didn’t do that, but we didn’t pick up the seats we needed to derail their train.”

Most of the focus was on the Senate, because of the alliance between GOP moderate leaders and Democrats to thwart Brownback on some issues such as remaking the appellate courts.

Most of the key races were in northeast Kansas, and three Democratic senators targeted by the GOP either won their races or led in final unofficial results — Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka, Tom Holland of Baldwin City and Laura Kelly of Topeka. But Democratic Sen. Kelly Kultala of Kansas City was trailing significantly in her race.

In the House, 11 incumbents, six Democrats and five Republicans, lost or were trailing in unofficial results. But three of the Democrats and two of the Republicans were in incumbent-on-incumbent contests forced by political redistricting.

The results of legislative elections left conservatives celebrating.

“I’m very energized,” said Rep. Tom Arpke, a conservative Salina Republican who won a seat in the Senate. “Kansas has some really good days ahead of it.”


lawrenceguy40 5 years, 5 months ago

Kansas will be the place people will look to in four years to see how the country should be governed. At a Federal level we will be in a mess, but business in Kansas will be booming, innocents will no longer be murdered by liberals and God will be back where he belongs - the center of everyone's lives.

Governor Brownback - please run for President in 2016. Our country will need you.

George_Braziller 5 years, 5 months ago

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!! The United States needs Brownback like a a slug needs a salt lick.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

Good idea. Going after high school tweeters and voter fraud prevention is exactly what we need. This will get the country back on track.

Doug Fisher 5 years, 5 months ago

Yea, keep dreaming while the rest of the country laughs at what a sad state Kansas has become. I don't plan on moving back either!

intheknow 5 years, 5 months ago

If John Hannah was leaning any more to the left he'd be falling over. Just report the news. Save your leanings for the opinion page. Sheesh. Reporters. Just give us the news already.

Orwell 5 years, 5 months ago


In this case, Hanna (not "Hannah," it's right there at the top of the story) as usual just repeats what he's told without getting into the merits of the competing arguments. This may be superficial stenography, but it's hardly "left-leaning" reporting. If anything, he could be faulted for failing to question simplistic claims.

Unless, of course, you consider it left-leaning to report anything beyond the "Gospel According to Sam."

jonas_opines 5 years, 5 months ago

Rather than just tossing out the accusation, can you actually point to the specific words in this piece that you constitute as left-leaning.

As a fair warning, if you just say "all of it", then it might be more of a sign of what you expected (or wanted) to see, rather than what's actually there.

question4u 5 years, 5 months ago

"Governor Brownback - please run for President in 2016. Our country will need you."

Yes, our country needs a sense of humor. In the primaries Brownback would be even more hilarious than the feeble minded Rick Perry or the bumbling Santorum. Brownback wouldn't be able to defer to his mouthpiece Sherriene during primary debates but instead would have to spew that swill personally in front of cameras. It's not a pretty picture, but it would be a tremendously funny one. It's cute to think that corporate powers behind the Republican party would consider pinning their hopes on Brownback.

How delusional is it to think that Brownback could win the presidency if Romney couldn't win the popular vote, let alone the electoral college vote? Romney is infinitely smarter and far more likeable than Brownback. How is Brownback going to win over those voters who rejected Romney? By pointing out the colossal deficit that his tax "experiment" has created for the state of Kansas?

The projected Kansas deficit for fiscal year 2013 is $328 million. That is expected to grow to a billion over the next 18 months. By the time Flim-Flam Sam could set out on the yellow brick road to the White House the Kansas deficit will be well on its way to $2.5 billion. Unless, of course, property taxes soar to some of the highest in the nation or Kansas public schools deteriorate to the level of those in Mississippi and South Carolina. Brownback is about to become one of the biggest liabilities to the national Republican party.

So, yes, if you are an ardent Democrat, you'll probably want to do all that you can to encourage Brownback to run for the presidency. His chance of winning is even smaller than Mike O'Neal's chance of getting into Heaven.

President Brownback! Now that's funny!

Paul R Getto 5 years, 5 months ago

In Iowa last time he ran his vote total was shameful. Slow learner, he is.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 5 months ago

Santorum Had a better chance than Brownback EVER will. The results are self explanatory. Something like" A snowball's chance in hell" comes to mind. Good Luck, Gov. Brownback.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 5 months ago

Breaking! Kansas Aspires to be North Dakota!

lgrant 5 years, 5 months ago

The comedians are also hoping Sam the Sham runs for president. It would be good for their business.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

Hope there are plenty of cowboys who want to buy houses, because I don't care for this particular rodeo.

Scott Tichenor 5 years, 5 months ago

I have an important government spending savings I'd like to recommend that would benefit Kansas greatly: fire the current governor.

guesswho 5 years, 5 months ago

A quick bit of research shows there are 7 states with no state income tax.

South Dakota

Alaska and Texas have oil. Nevada has (had?) tourism - they are reeling with the recession. Florida has tourism to offset the no personal state income tax - they are hit hard also.

But, local taxes will have to increase to offset the reduction of these taxes. Brownback has already indicated leaving in place a higher sales tax - this is a regressive tax. Thirty-one states do not tax food (grocery store sales - for home consumption), which Kansas does. There are seven states that tax food at a lower rate.

And although exempting the owners of 191,000 businesses from tax sounds not too onerous, doesn't that include the Koch brothers?

Dave Trabert 5 years, 5 months ago

You forgot Tennessee and New Hampshire.

The secret to having no income tax or a low tax burden in general is not access to oil or tourism; those states could still have a high tax burden if they spent more. The secret to having low taxes is keeping spending under control. Not by cutting services, but by providing essential services at lower costs.

The nine states with no income tax spent $1,564 per resident out of their General Fund in 2011, whereas the rest of the country spent $2,214...or 42% more. Kansas spent $1,974 per resident and taxpayers would have saved $1.2 billion by providing essential services at the same efficient price as states with no income tax.

Every state was impacted by the recession, but those 9 states with no income tax are in much better shape. Over the last ten years, those states have positive job growth while Kansas and the rest of the country as a whole went backwards. The same applies to domestic migration (U.S. residents choosing to move in and out of states); the no-income-tax states gained population while Kansas and the rest of the country lost.

Local taxes do not have to increase...that is nothing more than scare tactics and/or an excuse for local government to do what they have been doing for years. Taxpayers need to demand that government find ways to offer the same or better service at a better dozens of other states are already doing.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

The issue is in defining "essential services".

And, I'd be interested in any objective evidence you have that states that spend less are providing the same services at the same level of quality (or higher) than states spending more.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

Ah, New Hampshire. There are taxes on an individual's interest and dividends income, inheritance, business taxes, and consumer excise taxes. Tennessee also taxes capital gains on everyone but retirees earning under $26,000 per year.

Many of the fossil fuel states tax the heck out of those industries. Likewise with the tourist heavy states. We don't have either industry in enough magnitude to really make that workable. If you want to shift the burden of income taxes onto businesses and capital gains instead of doing it the other way around, you might have a persuasive argument, but I'm skeptical that you or the math-challenged legislators you write model legislation for could actually get the numbers to work.

But no. You'll just continue giving meaningless statistics and implying causation that is not there in the hopes that we'll buy into your cargo cult logic.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 5 months ago

In TN there is no PERSONAL income tax. There are still taxes on business income, inheritance taxes, etc. I also pay nearly 9% in sales tax. That's if I bother to shop in state. I'm fortunate that I live 6 blocks from the GA state line and it's worth the gas to drive over the state line to grocery shop, etc. and pay 2% less in sales taxes. Property taxes are through the roof. Fully one third of our house payment each month goes to property taxes.
Believe me, if they don't get you one way, they WILL get you another.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 5 months ago

By the way, I am aware that I live in a red state with this huge difference; Haslem is an old school moderate Republican. He is not a Teapublican like Sam. Haslem knows better than to pi$$ off the United Mine Workers. And he doesn't pander to the Kochs. He doesn't have to. He has Nashville and Memphis; the Tennessee Titans and Opryland; Dollywood and the Great Smokey Mountains. I am not unhappy.

headdoctor 5 years, 5 months ago

Dave Trabert, do you think everyone on this forum are fools? You are as bad as the Republicans believing in Santa and the tooth fairy. There are only 7 states that have absolutely no income tax. But they do have higher property taxes, sales taxes, fuel taxes, and other taxes. There are 3 of those states that haven't been setting the world on fire and the other 4 have plenty to fall back on. Tourism, oil, coal, and industrial diamonds for starters. Try peddling your Libertarian Jive to someone who will believe it. Perhaps you and Liberty One should plan a party for yourselves.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

I allow for the possibility that Trabert himself is the fool and genuinely believes the magic efficiency fairy only visits states with no income taxes. It is, after all, what he's paid to believe, and there's nothing in his background that would give him a deep understanding of macroeconomics. He's just some dude that ran a couple of failing TV stations.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 5 months ago

Any college student reading this who is majoring in education, you might want to change your major now while you can. There's not going to be any teaching jobs opening for a while. By the time all the coming cuts in the next year or two are made, there's going to be a lot of unemployed educators.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 5 months ago

Nah. They'll just go elsewhere and add to the Kansas population/brain drain.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 5 months ago

I am saddened by what Brownback is doing to Kansas. I am more saddened by the people who actually think Brownback's voodoo is going to work. Sam will run this state into a giant hell hole. And I, for one, will vote against any local tax increase to help cover up this shameful plan Sam has for Kansas. You broke it, republicans, you fix it.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

The consequences will be blamed on whowever comes after. In Kansas it will probably be an (R). So the blame will be shifted to the wherever a (D) can be found. Things like Obama Care and President Obama.

gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

Mississippi soon won't be #50 any more, but it will be because Kansas is furiously digging a hole to get under the ladder.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 5 months ago

You people are looking at Kansas becoming another Somalia within the borders of a state. Watch for broken down roads and kids 60 to a classroom.
Your governor is mad as hell at last Tuesday's elections and boy, is he gonna make Kansans pay. So try to weather his little tantie as best you can. The schoolyard bully has his posse (aka the Ks Legislature) out looking for a crippled kid he can kick the snot out of. Maybe in that 3200+ plus that are still on the waiting list for help?

Kontum1972 5 years, 5 months ago

Karl Rove is still trying to figure out how this got screwed up!....LoL..!

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 5 months ago

Actually, yes it is. And during WWII Charlie and David's dad actually did business with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, filtering the money through neutral countries so he didn't get caught in war mongering laws. Their dad was a HUGE admirer of Benito Mussolini and after WWII took Mussolini's "corporatist" philosophy and founded the John Birch society.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

They won't spend less. This bogus GOP will continue to hand out corporate welfare. How will they do it? Supply Side Economics. IT is known and borrow and spend, borrow and spend, borrow and spend, borrow and spend or can we say big time deficit spending such that this right wing thinking brought to Washington D.C.

The interest on this borrowing is a tax increase no matter how it is presented.

Reckless Economics!!!

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Isn't it time we call in the feds to audit the spending of Sam Brownback and his warriors of reckless spending?

seriouscat 5 years, 5 months ago

Many of the best and the brightest already flee this state the first chance they get for better living and more opportunity...these moves ensure the trend will continue...indeed it seems like that's what the goal is!

headdoctor 5 years, 5 months ago

This is nothing short of insanity to be talking about more tax cuts when they are clueless how the first batch is going to actually effect the State and that info wont be available until sometime next year. If Kansas has such a wonderful economy and to much tax money they need to pay off the 25 billion dollar debt that Kansas has first.

tomatogrower 5 years, 5 months ago

A $52,000 color brochure to inform business owners that they don't have to pay taxes is less spending? A black and white info sheet would have cost much less. I haven't seen too much "less spending" from Brownback. Yes, he stopped funding the arts, but then hired a bunch of "advisory" boards to do this and that. I'd like to know the exact costs of these cronies who are getting paid to "guide" (read: do the governor's job) the guv.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

Less taxes, spending cuts.

This is the plan, but unfortunately, this is not what my economics teacher taught us many years ago. He always said:

In a bad or recovering economy - 1) Less Taxes 2) Increased Spending In a good or growing economy - 1) More Taxes 2) Less Spending

Unfortunately, our debt is so far off the charts, I'm not sure this is an option. Not practicing the above is what got our debt out of control. Unfortunately it cannot be used any longer unless we want to add to our debt.

Biker 5 years, 5 months ago

Let's see what happens this next year. I am personally in favor of a voucher system to improve our public education in KS. Our educational system needs a complete overhaul and local school boards and teacher unions are the biggest obstacles to this change. Let's start by giving parents a choice to pursue more rigorous academic intuitions based upon their child's aptitude and values.

tomatogrower 5 years, 5 months ago

Kansas schools are ranked 8th in the nation, but we spend less money than many states. This isn't an efficiency model, it's the environment. We just have fewer large cities with the social problems that come with the poverty in large cities. Wichita probably has the worst performance, but not because of teachers. It's the culture they live in. Most Kansas children have parents who care about their education and are actively involved in the school. Schools that are failing are missing this crucial element. It wouldn't matter how many private schools came in, unless you have parents who care, it will never make a difference, unless they were strict military boarding schools that taught the discipline that the parents didn't teach. But how many deadbeat parents are going to even bother looking for a good school to use their voucher. They already don't care about their kids, vouchers won't change that.

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