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Brownback’s Topeka Miracle Fizzles Out

Cut taxes to increase revenues. We’ve been hearing this mantra from Republicans since the days of Ronald Reagan. And guess what? It doesn’t work any better now than it did back then, as Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is finding out the hard way.

Kansas, as a result of Brownback’s overly aggressive tax-cutting plan in his first term as governor, is now facing a budget shortfall of nearly $650 million in the coming fiscal year. Brownback, who had originally said he wanted to eliminate all state income taxes, now says he still plans to do away with state taxes, but will do so at a slower pace than originally proposed.

To replace the revenue lost through his “march to zero” plan for income taxes, Brownback is now calling for increases in taxes on tobacco and alcohol, a move which critics say disproportionately affects lower and middle class citizens in Kansas. Such taxes have been proven to be regressive, according to State Senator Laura Kelly. And many residents of Kansas will simply avoid the tax increases–which would triple the price of a pack of cigarettes–by leaving the state and buying their smokes and brews in Missouri, which would mean Kansas doesn’t get a single dime of additional tax revenue.

Nick Gardinier, the manager of a liquor store in Wichita, said the proposed “sin tax” increases are not fair to working people:

“I think it’s wrong. I think they should be getting their money from other sources instead of giving all the tax breaks that they’ve been doing to like Koch and big business, and now they’re coming back on the little people.”

Adding to the hypocrisy surrounding Governor Brownback’s latest tax increase is the fact that the plan he has put forward is almost exactly the same as the one his Democratic opponent, Paul Davis, recommended during the 2014 Kansas gubernatorial race.

And Brownback’s revenue enhancement package is far from certain to pass, despite the fact that the state legislature is controlled by Republicans. The President of the Kansas Senate, Susan Wagle, said, in response to Brownback’s proposal:

“He’s proposed some revenue enhancements that I think the Legislature will have a great difficulty passing. That’s tax increase.”

With the blind leading the blind in the Sunflower State, it certainly looks like Kansas’ financial woes could easily get worse before they get better.

This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org

By Andrew Bradford

Proud progressive journalist and political adviser living behind enemy lines in Red America.

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