McKay: The Kansas Economy: Three Jokes for April Fools’ Day

Annie McKay
April 1, 2016

I recently reflected on all that’s transpired in the last year, taking stock of progress, change, and where work remains to be done. Last year on April 1st KCEG, along with other allied organizations, held a press event at the statehouse where we called on the Governor and policymakers to reverse course and bring to an end the damaging tax plan put in place in 2012. While we weren’t joking then, here are some jokes being played on every Kansan this April Fools’ Day:

  1. Kansas’ revenue collections: For 11 of the last 12 months, the state failed to collect the revenue we need to pay the bills. Our expectations have been repeatedly lowered, burying the bar deep in the ground, and yet we have continuously been unable to clear it. Proponents of the failed tax policy offer excuse after excuse as to why Kansas can’t manage to make ends meet, but make no mistake about it – just like the math used to sell this failed policy, the excuses don’t add up either. The fact of the matter is Kansas is an outlier when it comes to revenue loss, and like every other measure of success, we trail the region and the nation.
  2. Support for education: In the first three months of 2016 alone, the Governor and some policymakers proposed dismantling early education, approved a plan for K-12 that shifts money from one pot to another, and cut higher education by $17 million. This comes after consecutive years of sweeps, cuts, and other gimmicks that have left our comprehensive education system struggling. If policymakers and the Governor support education, their actions in the last several years fail to reflect as much. And if we’re sincere about growing the Kansas economy, the place to start is with education.
  3. Job growth: Proponents of Kansas’ current trajectory continuously change the measure of success for this failed plan. We’ve pulled apart the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors metrics, personal income growth, and the unemployment rate – none of which add up to signs that the experiment is working. Most notable, however, is Kansas’ private job growth, which has been well documented by KCEG and others as being amongst the bottom of the barrel in the region and the nation. If you’re keeping track at home, whether measuring since we started down this damaging path or just in the last year, Kansas’ private job growth rate is laughable.

April Fools’ Day is a time for practical jokes, hoaxes, and other tricks. But since damaging, unaffordable tax changes were enacted in 2012, it feels like Kansas has been living one perpetual April Fools’ Day prank – except it’s not funny. Kansans have a choice – they can either remain on the receiving end of the joke played on us by proponents of the “March to Zero” or they can call on policymakers to end the hoax that these tax changes will result in growth. It’s time to come to terms with the compounding evidence that these extreme changes cost all of us a prosperous future.

ClayMcKay: The Kansas Economy: Three Jokes for April Fools’ Day