Dear Gov. Brownback: When You Find Yourself In A Hole, Stop Digging
June 9, 2015

We all know supply-side economics don't work, but for a certain class of the politically connected (stink tankers, ambitious staffers, lobbyists, and Republican politicians), tax cuts are the snake oil they must continue to sell. Kansas is a textbook example of a state in crisis, and the Republican governor and legislators are tying themselves in knots to find ways to increase revenue that won't affect their Koch patrons. Sucks to be them, amirite?

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas would likely be forced to lay off prison guards, cut aid to public schools and reduce payments to health care providers and nursing homes if legislators don't increase taxes, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's budget director told GOP lawmakers Monday.

Unable to agree on how to tackle a budget shortfall that arose after the state slashed personal income taxes, lawmakers over the weekend still approved a spending measure for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that includes a $400 million deficit.

Because the Kansas Constitution requires the budget to be balanced, Brownback has three options if no tax plan passes: veto the budget measure, which raises the threat of a partial government shutdown; use his power to veto individual spending lines, although those often contain most or all of an agency's state funding; or invoke a state law that allows him to avert a deficit by cutting spending when lawmakers are not in session.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan told lawmakers Monday that unless they increase taxes, Brownback is likely to choose the third option. "The most likely option is across-the-board cuts" of 6.2 percent of the amount lawmakers budgeted for each agency or program, Sullivan said.

The state's budget problems arose after lawmakers cut personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging in an effort to stimulate the economy. The governor and many GOP legislators want to preserve as much of those tax cuts as possible by boosting sales and cigarette taxes.

A poor person's tax, of course. Because They Who Must Not Be Named are headquartered in Kansas for a reason, and these GOPers know better than to bite the hand that feeds them.

Let's see how that works out for them.

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