September 25, 2016
Gov. Sam Brownback’s economic advisory council has discontinued a quarterly report that had been developed to ensure a timely analysis of the administration’s economic policies.
The Council of Economic Advisors, which is chaired by Brownback, will no longer compile and distribute a review of economic markers picked by the administration and championed as an accountability test of the administration’s economic vision.
Online publication of “Indicators of the Kansas Economy” was suspended during Brownback’s 2014 re-election campaign but remained available upon request from the Kansas Department of Commerce.
The agency, which staffs the economic advisory council, ended the report after releasing the May edition, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://j.mp/2cTKfYI ).
“A lot of people found them helpful, but a lot of people were confused by them,” said Nicole Randall, a spokeswoman for the commerce department.
The group instead intends to focus on a U.S. Federal Reserve report that Randall said includes an “in-depth look at the state, region and national economic statistics that impact Kansas.” Both the monthly federal report and the defunct state report feature statistics on employment, unemployment, personal income and energy production.
The absence of the state’s quarterly report was noticed by the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, which used it to advance tax policy conclusions contrary to those advocated by the governor.
Heidi Holliday, executive director of the nonprofit center in Topeka, said the end of the council’s economic assessment tool was an attempt to minimize public exposure of weaknesses in Brownback’s program to build the state’s economy by exempting 330,000 businesses from the income tax and reducing individual state income tax.
“He specifically asked the council to hold him accountable through rigorous performance metrics,” she said. “Five years later, the metrics clearly show his tax experiment has failed while business leaders and local chambers of commerce across the state openly ask him to change course.”