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Prall: Thank God we’re not in Kansas anymore

BY JACOB PRALL | OCTOBER 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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Kansas’ latest disaster has been a twister by the name of Brownback. Ushering in sweeping economic changes based on conservative rhetoric, the state is facing massive deficits, layoffs, and cuts on education and infrastructure spending.

The “Brownback Experiment,” named after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, has thrown the 34th state into a fiscal disaster. In addition to stricter abortion and birth-control access, relaxed gun control, and increased voter-registration scrutiny, Brownback also launched a slew of policies conservatives have been championing for years. Sharp cuts to welfare, massive tax cuts, etc. So what’s the problem?

A lot of things. For starters, a credit downgrade, meaning the state of Kansas can’t borrow as much money and borrows at a higher rate. Further, the state has to operate in deficit spending, increasing its debt that now has higher interest rates. It has also had to cut education, highway, and government payroll spending, meaning fewer teachers, fewer construction workers, and fewer public employees.

Many in Kansas appreciated the tax cuts. They went so far as to make small business tax-exempt. Instead of investing the money saved, or hiring more workers, the people of Kansas are sitting on their extra revenues, according to the New York Times. Most Kansas farmers and businesspeople don’t actually need more workers. Who can blame them for holding on to their money after the financial collapse of 2008? What the Kansas folk do need, however, are roads and schools, but there isn’t a way for them to channel their money into these things. Well, actually, there is. It’s called taxes.

Cuts in education may be the most worrisome problem in Kansas. Classroom sizes are getting larger, teachers are getting pay cuts or laid off, and entire schools are shutting down. With a lack of solid early education, not only will people avoid moving into those areas, but the schools will be faced with poor test scores as a result. Poor test scores more often than not lead to cuts in federal grants for education, worsening the problem further. With federal cuts to educational spending and poor infrastructure warding off prospective college students and the educated workforce, state universities and local businesses will find fewer people interested in their products. Kansas’s school enrollments go down, funding is cut, and the cycle continues. Profits are down, jobs are cut, and the cycle continues. Kansas is facing a downward spiral of destitution.

The craziest part about this story is that the Kansas GOP is so divided that many are backing a Democratic candidate in the election for governor. Brownback is certain that it will just take time for the tax cuts to incentivize growth, and many are inclined to believe him. Their principles are overshadowing the facts of the matter.

Conservative fiscal policy is definitely not the answer; I think that’s a fair conclusion. When it comes to economics, a lot of things look good in theory, because economics is mostly theoretical. I don’t think it is safe to say that all conservative fiscal ideas are nonsense or that liberal economics are where it’s at.

I do think this has shown us what can happen when a single party controls a government.  No one is right 100 percent of the time, thus no one party should be in control 100 percent of the time. Black and white measures won’t tackle today’s fiscal difficulties. Remember that next time you hear a tea-party member chanting about taxes without a statement on how to replace that revenue.


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