Kris Kobach’s campaign for governor in 2018 is going to be a constant barrage of misleading attacks on tax revenues and the good they do for 3 million Kansans.
How disconnected is Kobach from reality?
In a vacuous recent oped in The Kansas City Star, Kobach said he opposed the fair and badly needed income tax increases the Legislature approved this year. They will help rectify the financial disasters created by Gov. Sam Brownback’s income tax cuts of 2012.
“Kansas government doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem,” the Republican candidate wrote.
Kobach noted he had sliced the secretary of state’s office budget to $4.7 million a year. Alas, that’s just a pimple on the ass of the state’s $15.6 billion budget.
He provided no other specific examples as to how he would really slash spending by hundreds of millions of dollars, either in The Star article or on his gubernatorial campaign website (where he repeated the example about his office budget).
This is the familiar kind of anti-tax nonsense spewed by one after another fellow ultra-conservatives in recent years in the Sunflower State, including the most powerful people in government.
Here’s just one out-of-touch example from Brownback in 2016:
In balancing the budget, I will not support a tax increase on small business. My focus is on managing spending, not on raising taxes. #ksleg
— Sam Brownback (@govsambrownback) March 1, 2016
Yet even when ultra-conservatives controlled the Legislature starting with Brownback being elected governor in 2010 — and an overwhelmingly ultra-con Legislature coming aboard with Brownback’s help in 2012 elections — deep spending cuts were never approved.
Because the state already has sliced spending on important programs such as road construction.
It’s already used up many one-time revenue fixes.
A taxpayer-funded study that claimed the state could save money was largely ignored because its findings were too hard to put in place or overly optimistic.
And the Legislature properly has been ordered by the Kansas Supreme Court not to decimate funding for the No. 1 priority of state government — the K-12 school system.
Besides Brownback, other Republicans have preceded Kobach in making the meaningless claim they are going to “cut spending.”
After he was-re-elected speaker in 2014, the often-clueless House Speaker Ray Merrick of Johnson County said he wanted to cut spending to avoid projected deficits.
“‘That’s where I am right now. As things progress, we’ll see what happens,’ Merrick said. ‘But I still think we spend too much.’ When asked what he would cut, Merrick said: ‘I really haven’t looked at it yet. That’s what one of my priorities will be after today.’”
However, over the next two year, Merrick never offered a significant, comprehensive budget-cutting plan for the Legislature to vote on.
Even in 2017, after voters in 2016 sent moderate GOP candidates to replace more than a dozen ultra-cons in the Legislature, some politicians like Rep. John Whitmer, a Wichita Republican, kept up their anti-tax prattle.
As he offered during a debate over taxes this year: “Our state government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.”
Fortunately, his colleagues disagreed. They approved the higher taxes necessary to start to repair the damage done by the reckless Brownback income tax cuts.
Voters in 2018 shouldn’t want to repeat the status quo. They should not send Kobach to the governor’s mansion. He would merely try to replicate the huge problems caused by the 2012 tax cuts.