More Kansas Fallout: Brownback Doubles Down on His Failed Policies

Remember when Sam Brownback promised that his storied pay-for-themselves tax cuts wouldn’t force cuts to education? Some of us do. His vaunted tax cuts were supposed to be a test of whether the Laffer Curve’s inflection point was lower than Kansas’ tax rate.

It turns out, of course, that it wasn’t. Now, rather than repeal his ruinous tax cuts Brownback and his Republican allies are starving the beast by killing school funding:

Bigger class sizes and fewer services. That’s what the Kansas teachers union says will happen if Gov. Sam Brownback cuts funding for education. The governor announced Thursday he plans to reduce funds for public schools and higher education by $45 million.

“Schools have been trying to shield the effects of these cuts from students but it’s becoming more and more difficult. In fact, it’s becoming impossible,” said Marcus Baltzell, the director of Communications for Kansas National Education Association. “These cuts, basically districts are going to have to make some very difficult decisions regarding class size and program cuts.”

Of course, Brownback has a potential way for his more comfortable base not to bear the brunt of the cuts: just screw over the poorer kids, instead.

As an alternative, Gov. Brownback also suggested that lawmakers could instead withhold the $54 million allotted to poor school districts under a law enacted last year.

The reason Kansas is so important is that Republican economics isn’t just an immoral mess of repulsive Objectivist ethics. It also functionally doesn’t work. Tax cuts do not, in fact, generate more revenue. Cutting school funding does not, in fact, help a state’s economy. The rich do not, in fact, create jobs–and cutting their taxes isn’t going to make them any likelier to stay and do what little they do accomplish in the job creation department. People making over $300,000 a year don’t decide to stay in Kansas rather than go live closer to their family in Virginia, just because they get to pocket an extra few thousand dollars. Keeping those people in Kansas doesn’t actually do much economic good, and the kinds of people who make their decisions that way aren’t exactly the sorts of people you want having leverage over your state.

Brownback economics isn’t just immoral. It’s also just wrong from a functional and technical point of view. And America needs to be reminded of that as often as possible.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.