Poor Kansans. Their newfound hope of creating a state of hope and opportunity for future generations was suddenly swept away Tuesday evening.
Gov. Sam Brownback announced that he will veto the badly needed income tax increases the Legislature somewhat surprisingly approved last week.
And just like that, the chance that the state would again have the revenue needed to provide solid public services to its residents is on the verge of evaporating. Kansas may have to keep cutting spending on roads, higher education and social services.
Unfortunately, neither the House nor the Senate approved the tax increases with veto-proof margins. Soon, tax supporters should try to round up 84 votes in the House; the bill got 76 last week. The Senate will require 27 votes to override Brownback; the measure got 22 last week.
It’s up to responsible Republicans — who are most on the fence about the issue — to come together in the best interests of Kansas’ future, defy Brownback and approve the package once it comes back to them.
True, the Legislature could ratchet the tax increases back a bit as part of a compromise with Brownback. However, I’m skeptical that would work. He’s been 100 percent irresponsible with his long-time support for the 2012 income tax cuts. Why would he change now?
The delusional Brownback continued Tuesday evening to sell his tax cuts as a way to grow the state economy. The proof is absolutely clear that this is not happening.
Public revenues are far lower than they were before the tax cuts. The state faces a $318 million deficit by June 30, and a nearly $600 million deficit in the next fiscal year.
And jobs — while up a puny 30,000 since the tax cuts took effect in January 2013 — have actually declined by several thousand over the first two years of Brownback’s second term. Yikes.
Brownback, speaking at the Kansas Chamber of Commerce dinner, brought out the tired canard that business formations are at record levels for another year. Let me repeat: This has no bearing on whether the state economy is thriving. Many of these businesses obviously are not creating jobs.
Here’s the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics total nonfarm employment data for the past six years since Brownback took office in January 2011.
The governor has dragged Kansas into fiscal hell the last four years. How much lower can the state go?
Unfortunately, Kansans are going to find out — unless the Legislature finds the spine to overturn his veto.