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Tax cuts for the rich made Kansas broke — so now Republicans move to raise taxes on the poor

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Let’s say you’re the Governor of Kansas. The tax cuts for the rich you pushed through a couple years ago mean you’re in a world of budgetary hurt, and you’re not sure how you’re going to pay for basic expenses like roads and schools this year. What do you do? Repeal tax cuts? Absolutely not. You’re Sam Brownback. You balance your books on the backs of the poor, and cite fiscal prudence as a moral justification.

The Washington Post reports that Republican officials in Kansas are pursuing increases in sales and excise taxes – which have the ultimate effect of making it more expensive to be poor. People who have less money can’t afford to invest money like rich people; poor people have to spend their paychecks just to make it through the week. Consequently, sales taxes – as a matter of policy – proportionally punish people at the lower end of income spectrum.

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And in Kansas, unlike many states, there are taxes on food. If Republican tax plans make it through the statehouse in Topeka, paying for groceries will become a bigger burden for cash-strapped families than it already is.

In its 2015 edition of “Who Pays: A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All Fifty States,” the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy counts Kansas among the 10 states with the “most regressive state and local tax systems.” Taxes eat up 11.1 percent of income for the poorest 20 percent of Kansas residents. Meanwhile, Kansas’ top one percent of earners forfeit a comparatively paltry 3.6 percent of their income.

Not on Kansas’ Republican policy agenda? Repealing those expensive 2012 tax cut laws that caused Kansas’ current budget disaster in first place.

Meg Wiehe of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy tells the Washington Post that, “Kansas has really shifted the responsibility for paying for taxes from those at the top with the most income, where income is growing, to those at the very bottom of the income spectrum, where incomes are stagnant or even declining.”

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Kansas passes some wacky laws. Brownback recently signed legislation that effectively makes it illegal for poor people to go to swimming pools (but not to buy guns, incidentally). In February, the state passed a bill making it possible to punish school teachers for assigning instructional materials the government doesn’t like. In July, people in Kansas will be able to conceal carry weapons without the dreaded inconvenience of having to first obtain a permit. And, in a baffling move from a saving state money standpoint, Brownback signed legislation earlier this month that would make it possible to incarcerate juveniles as if they were adults, creating the need to devote even more resources to the state’s already overstretched prison system.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Here’s why Jeffrey Epstein surrounded himself with scientists

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The list of confidants and friends who were fêted by the late financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein included a number of prominent scientists. Among the eye-popping names that appeared on the list: the late cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Nobel-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, physicist Frank Wilczek, neurologist Oliver Sacks, and geneticist George M. Church.

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Trump just humiliated his own son with an absurd tweet about Greenland

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President Donald Trump confirmed multiple reports this weekend when he said that he does, indeed, hope to buy Greenland and make it part of the United States.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has said that the country, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is “not for sale”: “Greenland belongs to Greenland.” Which should be the end of the story. Unfortunately, it’s not.

On Monday, Trump sent the following tweet, apparently trying to quell suspicions that the president just regards Greenland as another place to expand his business empire:

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Trump’s resolve on background checks ‘substantially softened’ after call from NRA’s Wayne LaPierre: NYT

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President Donald Trump has reversed his promises to fight for gun control, The New York Times reported Monday.

"Days after a pair of deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump said he was prepared to endorse what he described as 'very meaningful background checks' that would be possible because of his 'greater influence now over the Senate and over the House,'" the newspaper reported.

"But after discussions with gun rights advocates during his two-week working vacation in Bedminster, N.J. — including talks with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association — Mr. Trump’s resolve appears to have substantially softened, and he has reverted to reiterating the conservative positions on the gun issue he has espoused since the 2016 campaign," The Times reported.

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