Friday, July 31, 2015

The Kansas Catastrophe Matt Bevin Plans for Kentucky

So, now that Jack Conway has conceded the Kentucky Governor's race by running the same repug-lite campaign that boosted Alison Lundergan Grimes to a 15-point loss against the most hated man in the Commonwealth, what are we likely to suffer under Governor Matt Bevin?

Give the repug piece of shit credit: he hasn't tried to hide it.  He's going to turn Kentucky into Sam Brownback's Kansas.

And what's so bad about that, you say? Just that in four years Sam Brownback managed to turn a functioning U.S. state into fucking Haiti.

Kansas's Failed Experiment

The state's budget problems didn't go away after Governor Sam Brownback's reelection—they got worse. Will the lesson of tax-cuts-gone-awry give Republican candidates pause in 2016?

Russell Berman Apr 9, 2015

Surviving a tough reelection race, as Sam Brownback did in Kansas last year, can often be a cleansing experience for a governor. It should certainly bring relief. After all, Brownback managed to earn a fresh nod of support from voters despite a messy first term marked by a fiscal embarrassment of his own making.

Yet three months later, the humbling in the heartland goes on, much to the frustration of a Republican governor and one-time presidential contender who hoped to make Kansas the national emblem of conservative governance. Brownback's hard-fought victory on election day won him another four years, but it did nothing to fix the problem that nearly cost him his job: the state's finances. Kansas's budget has for months resembled a wallet with a hole in it—every time the state's bookkeepers peek inside, they find less money than the government thought would be there. Just a few days after the November election, the Kansas budget office revealed that revenue projections were off by more than $200 million, bringing the budget gap facing Brownback to $600 million in all.

The yawning deficit is widely blamed on the deep income tax cuts that Brownback, along with a Republican legislature, enacted during his first two years in office. They not only slashed rates, but more importantly, they created a huge exemption for business owners who file their taxes as individuals. By Brownback's own description, the tax plan was a "real live experiment" in supply-side economics, with the idea being that lower taxes would spur investment, create jobs, and refill Kansas's coffers through faster growth. Yet even under the most charitable analysis, revenue has plummeted much faster than the economy has expanded. 
"He’s lived and died by this philosophy, and it’s becoming more and more obvious that it is not going to be successful."

Now, Kansas's red ink has left the governor red- faced. Brownback is asking Republican state lawmakers to slow the income tax cuts over the next few years, raise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, overhaul school funding, and divert money from the state's highway fund in order to balance the budget. It's not as if he's abandoning his conservative economic philosophy—he still wants to replace the state's income tax entirely with consumption taxes over time. And like any politician on the ropes, he is preaching patience. "These things take time," he said last month. He also acknowledged the toll his stumbles have taken on his image. "We're in Lent season, so I'm giving up worldly things, like popularity," he joked to a small crowd. Brownback has blamed the budget shortfall in part on automatic increases in education spending (a subject of a long-running court dispute), and he's cited a recent uptick in job growth as evidence that the tax cuts, on the whole, are working. "Kansas is on the rise, and the state of our state is strong," the governor proclaimed in an annual budget address in January.
 Oh, it gets worse. And it's getting even worse than that.

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