Early Tuesday morning, you could almost hear the delusional cackling of Sam Brownback as he promised to keep Kansas bankrupt.
The Republican governor pledged to veto a badly needed tax-increase package, approved on Monday by the Legislature.
With the veto, Brownback would be daring exhausted members of the House and the Senate to override him, presumably later on Tuesday or this week.
— Sam Brownback (@govsambrownback) June 6, 2017
Here’s the big problem, as reported by The Wichita Eagle:
Alas, Kansans have been here before.
The Legislature approved another large tax increase in late February — which seems like eons ago. That one, like the one endorsed Monday, also would have killed the costly and unfair income tax exemption for owners of 330,000 LLCs.
Brownback vetoed that bill. The House barely overrode his action but the Senate could get only 24 votes for the override.
That ensured continued debate for months on higher taxes. They are desperately required to better fund essential public services, especially a larger contribution to K-12 school funding as ordered by the Kansas Supreme Court.
At this point, Kansans must be hoping (unrealistically) that lawmakers might be getting angry enough at the governor’s continued lack of leadership on resolving this issue to vote for the tax hikes. That would allow the elected officials to finally go home after one of the longest legislative sessions in history.
Brownback doesn’t accept any of the blame here, which is another part of his delusional behavior. He continues to claim that his 2012 income tax cuts — which have slashed hundreds of millions in revenues every year — are working out just peachy keen for Kansans.
But wealthy Kansans have gained the most from the tax cuts, not ordinary residents. The long-ago promised jobs explosion never happened. And state government has had to divert billions in road tax revenues and one-time funds to keep the state afloat.
Early Tuesday, Brownback said he would work with the Legislature “to develop a plan that balances our budget without greatly harming hard-working Kansans.”
That’s utter nonsense, of course.
The last time Brownback had to help “solve” a funding crisis was 2015. He put forth a higher sales tax, and the Legislature less than two weeks later adopted something close to his plan. That increased consumption taxes on poor and middle-income Kansans, while keeping the LLC tax exemption in place along with the reckless 2012 income tax reductions.
Brownback’s veto pen makes him a strong opponent of responsible fiscal behavior. The governor is eager to cling to his badly failed tax cuts, no matter the damage done to the Sunflower State.
The Legislature must have the courage to override Brownback’s promised veto this week. Or, the members will have to come up with a new tax increase bill that will attract enough support to cancel out his veto.
It’s clear by now that Brownback won’t provide any realistic way out of the state’s financial mess.