September 29, 2016
When Governor Sam Brownback began his great tea party tax experiment in Kansas, he championed a quarterly economic review as an accountability test of his vision.
Now that his vision has failed miserably, the Council of Economic Advisors, chaired by Brownback himself, has determined that they will no longer compile and distribute the report, which was based on a comparison with economic markers from six neighboring states.
Their excuse: it confuses people.
“A lot of people found them helpful, but a lot of people were confused by them,” said Nicole Randall, who is a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Online publication of “Indicators of the Kansas Economy” was temporarily suspended during Brownback’s re-election campaign in 2014, but it remained available upon request from the commerce department.
Now the review will simply cease to exist.
Brownback’s ruinous policies include exempting 330,000 businesses from paying income taxes, as well as reducing individual state income taxes. He believed that the reduction in taxes would lure business to Kansas, but instead it just left the state coffers empty and led to a loss of many services that benefit all of the residents of the state, including highway maintenance and education.
Many school districts have been forced to cut their school years short, fire teachers, and increase class sizes to unmanageable numbers.
Heidi Holliday, executive director of the nonprofit Kansas Center for Economic Growth, said the demise of the economic assessment was an attempt to minimize public exposure of weaknesses in Brownback’s program.
“He specifically asked the council to hold him accountable through rigorous performance metrics,” she told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “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.”
Businesses and political candidates have called for a repeal of the tax exemptions, which were adopted in 2012 by the conservative Legislature and Brownback. Moderate Republicans swept the April 2016 state primaries, showing the general public’s disdain of the extremist policies put into play by the governor and his allies.
“The missed revenue marks, missed job reports, missed projections shed light on his failed policies,” said State House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs.
The Council has promised to release a different analysis, based on federal information, at some point in the future, maybe November. This is a surprising decision, given that Brownback’s crew has historically maligned federal reports as being inaccurate and biased.
Brownback set up the Council of Economic Advisers shortly after taking office in 2011. Comprised of 20 members drawn from business and industry, he said the council would be responsible for coordinating strategic economic development planning, evaluating state policies and agency performance, and researching Kansas’ tax competitiveness, regulatory structure and basic industries.
“Economic competitiveness requires a detailed understanding of regional, national and international economic conditions and trends,” he said at the time.
Brownback believed the quarterly review would offer timely determinations of whether “policies and initiatives are having the desired economic effect.”
Apparently, he meant to say that the evaluation would tell us WHEN the policies and initiatives had the desired effect.
Since his initiatives have failed pretty much across the board, the review will be no more.
Read more from the Santa Monica Observer here.