A five year exercise in “trickle-down economics” ended in failure for the state of Kansas last Tuesday.
In an effort to secure their seats in the 2018 midterm elections, moderate Republicans joined their Democratic counterparts in the Kansas State Legislature to reverse extreme tax cuts enacted by Gov. Sam Brownback.
Eighteen of the state’s thirty-one Republican senators and forty-nine of the eighty-five GOP House members voted against the continuation of tax cuts that have debilitated Kansas’s economic growth for the last five years, according to the Washington Post.
Last week’s veto was the legislature’s first successful attempt to reverse those disastrous economic policies.
Brownback had called the state’s deep tax cuts a “real live experiment” in conservative-majority governance when they were implemented in 2012. Now, the experiment serves only as a cautionary tale to conservative legislators across the country and in the United States congress.
Among the most important measures for the state, the reversal will increase taxes for Kansas’s wealthiest residents by restoring the third bracket of the state’s marginal rates on income. Additionally, less affluent households will also experience a tax hike. Plans to steadily decrease tax rates will be eliminated, as well as tax loopholes for small businesses.
The decision came as a result of demonstrated damage to the Kansas economy, prompting longtime dissatisfaction from the public, according to the Post.
“People expect us to take care of business efficiently and appropriately,” GOP Rep. Melissa Rooker said to the Post. “I just think it was the pressure building.”
According to the Post, Gov. Brownback’s tax cut initiative stifled economic growth, ravaged the state’s budget and caused unpopular spending cuts.
From the outset, the predicament in Kansas appears to be an overwhelming success for Democrats across the country. However, the tax cut reversal should more clearly represent what can happen when the majority party abandons a principal part of their platform in order to provide for the betterment of the state.
Kansas Republicans weren’t motivated to change their policies because of staunch Democratic opposition or activist response. The Kansas GOP had overwhelming power in the legislature and sufficient means to continue their economic policies as usual. Rather, the turnaround arose from dissatisfaction with their own legislation in the face of overwhelming evidence of its failure.
The example set by the Kansas government is extraordinary because the party that long championed low tax rates initiated its tax cut reversal. The Editorial Board hopes their actions might inspire other state legislatures across the country, as well as representatives at the national level.
Kansas will serve as a lesson to the rest of the states and to Washington, D.C. We’ve already seen examples of conservative dissatisfaction at the Capitol Building, from traditionally partisan members swinging to more moderate positions to a debilitating lack of consensus among the governing party.
The state of Kansas aptly demonstrated what happens when tax cuts fail to provide the economic growth conservative plans promise and how Republican representatives can respond to their own policies, even when it goes against traditional beliefs.