Surprise! Sam Brownback’s KC area jobs predictions were wildly wrong

mappWe now have four years worth of facts to evaluate how Gov. Sam Brownback’s income tax cuts have affected job growth in the Kansas City area.

Brownback has consistently said the tax reductions that took effect in January 2013 would cause employment to surge on the Kansas side of the state line.

He was right for the first year after the tax cuts — but wildly wrong for the last three years.

The data are here on the federal Bureau of Labor site.

Sam Brownback

Sam Brownback

Take a look at the facts, always keeping in mind that the 2012 tax cuts sliced state revenue and have left the Legislature grasping at straws to fund schools, roads, pensions and crucial services.

— Total nonfarm employment on a not seasonally adjusted basis soared by 61,700 on the Missouri side of the state line, up 11.3 percent, from January 2013 to January 2017. The counties included are Bates, Caldwell, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Jackson, Lafayette, Platte and Ray.

But jobs were up only 30,200 on the Kansas side of the state line, or 7.0 percent, in the same four-year period.  The counties included in the BLS survey are Johnson — the longtime supposed job-creation capital of the Kansas City area — as well as Leavenworth, Linn, Miami and Wyandotte.

Summed up, the Missouri side has doubled the number of jobs added on the Kansas side. That’s impressive, even after taking into account that total employment on the Kansas side is a bit smaller.

— Missouri-side jobs have swamped those on the Kansas side for three straight years — though this is when the Brownback tax cuts have had plenty of time to work.

In fact, the latest 12-month period was the worst for Brownback’s defenders. The Missouri side of the area gained 24,600 jobs from January 2016 to January 2017. Kansas was up a puny 2,600.

— The Missouri side of the state line has grown faster on a year-over-year basis for just over the last two years (chart below).


— Adding insult to injury, in the three 12-month cycles before the tax cuts took effect — essentially the years of 2010, 2011 and 2012 — the Kansas side of the state line out-gained the Missouri side.

The totals were 24,700 jobs for the Sunflower State and only 10,800 for the Show Me State.

Brownback and his sycophants have offered various excuses for the failures of the tax cuts to generate more employment in Kansas-side counties.

One is that public-sector jobs shouldn’t be included; only private-sector ones count. That’s absurd. People employed by local, state and federal  governments — and public schools — are paid to work. They spend money and inject life into the local economy.

Other excuses include the contentions that the oil, farming and aviation industries are swooning in Kansas. That is true, to a degree. But the Kansas side of the KC area isn’t a huge factor in any of these industries. This region doesn’t have many oil wells or big farms; the aviation businesses drive the Wichita economy.

These are lame explanations.

The real verdict is in, and Brownback’s tax cuts simply haven’t worked as advertised.