Kansas had one of the worst economies in the Midwest when, in June 2017, its state legislature reversed former Gov. Sam Brownback’s disastrous tax cuts for the wealthy. And according to CNBC America’s Top States for Business study, Kansas is now the state with the most improved economy in the U.S. and is enjoying a budget surplus.
In 2018, Kansas’ economy came in at an embarrassing #45 in the Top States for Business study and at #35 overall — and since then, it has improved by 16 points in general as well as by 16 points in the economy category, according to CNBC.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a centrist Democrat, was delighted with the news, telling CNBC, “We are returning to our roots as a very progressive, thoughtful, forward-looking state.” The Democrat went on to say, “Kansas, for years now, has been at the low end of all economic metrics. That’s changing.”
The economic problems that Kansas suffered under Brownback’s watch were the exact opposite of what the far-right Republican claimed would happen. When the GOP-controlled state legislature dramatically cut taxes for Kansas’ wealthiest residents and its largest businesses and Brownback signed the tax cuts into law, Republicans insisted that the state would boom economically. Instead, Kansas’ economy plummeted, and in 2017, a combination of Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature reversed the tax cuts.
Brownback, who resigned as governor in January 2018, was wildly unpopular during his final year in office. According to a Morning Consult poll, his approval rating was only 25% in July 2017. In contrast, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker — a Republican in a very Democratic state where Sen. Elizabeth Warren was reelected by a landslide in 2018 — enjoyed 71% approval in that poll and was cited as the most popular governor in the United States.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Kansas had a $351 million revenue shortfall for fiscal year 2018. But with the reversal of Brownback’s tax cuts having taken effect, Kansas now has a budget surplus.
However, some Republicans in Kansas’ state legislature are pushing to restore some of the tax cuts and are arguing that the problem with Brownback’s economic program wasn’t the tax cuts — it was a failure to reduce spending.
A major shock in Kansas politics occurred in 2018 when the deeply Republican state elected a Democratic governor: Kelly, who defeated far-right Republican gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach (Kansas’ former secretary of state and a one-time promoter of the racist “birther” conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama wasn’t really born in the United States).
Although Kansas’ economy has improved, according to CNBC’s study, Kelly stressed that there is still work to be done in that state.
“We will be studying our entire tax structure because it’s way out of whack right now,” Kelly told CNBC. “We want to take us back to what works for Kansas, which is really essentially what we call the three-legged stool: balance out our property taxes, our sales tax and our income taxes.”
All the president’s grifters
Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
One of Donald Trump's great gifts is an instinct for surrounding himself with people who are so sleazy and lacking in credibility that when they're indicted for some scam or flip on him and reveal his abuses of power they're easy to discredit.
Lara Trump appears to mock Biden’s stutter at campaign event: ‘Let’s get the words out, Joe’
President Donald Trump's daughter-in-law and campaign adviser Lara Trump appeared to mock former Vice President Joe Biden's stutter during a "Women for Trump" event Tuesday in Iowa.
This article first appeared in Salon.
"I feel kind of sad for Joe Biden," Lara Trump, who is the wife of Eric Trump, said. "I'm supposed to want him to fail at every turn, but every time he comes on stage or they turn to him, I'm like: 'Joe, can you get it out? Let's get the words out, Joe.' You kinda feel bad for him. The problem is that's their front-runner, guys, OK?"
Former GOP strategist Rick Wilson: ‘Hating’ Trump is the key to winning in 2020
Rick Wilson has helped countless Republicans win elections over the years as one of the most sought-after GOP media consultants. His work, by his own admission, has contributed to the hyper-partisan, zero-sum political world that we live in today. But that was all B.T., or "Before Trump." Wilson is now using his mastery of the dark arts of politics to defeat the leader of the very party he helped build, as laid out in his new book, "Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump — and Democrats from Themselves."