Brownback's Fairy Tale
A Note From KDP Chair Joan Wagnon:
Last night, I listened intently as our Governor, Sam Brownback, wove a homespun and idyllic tale about Kansas’s pioneer past and bright future. The governor highlighted just why Kansas is a special place – our fight against slavery, our perseverance in the face of difficulty, our proud aviation and basketball tradition. Kansas is a special place.
I heard the governor rightfully stress the importance of education, jobs, and family – echoing Kansas Democrats call to support education, opportunity, and responsibility. All in all, the governor painted an attractive portrait of our fair state that would make any person pick up and move to Kansas immediately.
This morning when the details of the governor’s budget surfaced, I realized that the governor’s State of the State was nothing more than a prairie fairy tale. His proposed budget is a two-year nightmare that consists of wrong priorities and fuzzy math. While the governor had talked so eloquently about improving Kansas student literacy and putting dollars into early reading programs, his budget fails to raise education spending a dime in 2014 – even though Kansas courts have found Kansas schools are woefully underfunded by over $400 million. Instead, Kansas schools and teachers are expected to improve performance by teaching more children with fewer resources – an equation that simply does not add up. And let's not forget, everything will work out if we just start flunking third graders.
Things only got worse from there. Governor Brownback continued his pattern of raising taxes on working Kansas families to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest Kansans. Not only does Governor Brownback’s budget increase sales tax, a regressive tax that falls more heavily upon low-income Kansans, but it also eliminates the home mortgage interest deduction. This $160 million deduction repeal hurts Kansas homeowners struggling to recover from the Great Recession. The burden will fall squarely on middle-class Kansans. According to the Kansas Association of Realtors, 65% of Kansas taxpayers who claim the mortgage interest deduction earn less than $100,000.
I was also amazed that the income tax cuts he promised last night were nowhere to be found in his budget – because there is no money to fund more reckless cuts.
Governor Brownback envisions Kansas as a leader for the rest of the country and firmly believes that he is putting us on a path to small-government salvation. You can see this vision in his State of the State’s flowery rhetoric. But his budget and his math tell a contradictory tale – one leading Kansas over a fiscal cliff and into financial ruin.