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.”
Trump officials to face congressional grilling over president’s link to white nationalist terrorism
Next week, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are poised to question members of the Trump administration about the dangerous rise in white nationalist violence.
Just last weekend, a man slaughtered dozens of people in El Paso, Texas, after citing an "invasion" on the Southwest border.
In addition to questioning senior national security officials about the rise in white nationalism violence, they also plan to ask them whether they think President Donald Trump is instigating violent acts with his rhetoric, reports Greg Sargent in the Washington Post.
Here’s the disgusting truth about America’s CEO pay scam
Average CEO pay at big corporations topped 14.5 million dollars in 2018. That’s after an increase of 5.2 million dollars per CEO over the past decade, while the average worker’s pay has increased just 7,858 dollars over the decade.
How Elizabeth Warren works the political system
She has an approach that involves identifying ways to make progress and focusing relentlessly on achieving them.
I get a little annoyed by trendy, overused terms like “theory of change” that always seem to me more like after-the-fact justifications for how leaders manage to succeed than a premeditated idea. But you can build that thread with Elizabeth Warren, and take some lessons from her approach to politics, a combination of quiet bureaucratic skill, persistence, and the leverage of grassroots coalitions as outside muscle.