Yesterday, I posted about the eleventh hour tax increases the Kansas Legislature passed on June 12, 2015 to cover the budget shortfall caused by the major tax cuts they passed in 2012. The tax cuts were marketed on the concept that businesses would use the money they saved in taxes to hire and expand. New residents and businesses would move to Kansas to take advantage of the lower taxes.
Okay, I have some issues with the wishful thinking that the saved tax money would be used for job expansion. My big issue is that I can’t see why someone would move or bring a business to Kansas right now no matter how low the income taxes are. Advocates of the “lower taxes and get more jobs and businesses” mindset seem to forget that for most people, taxes are just part of why they chose to live or do business.
Let me get this straight; I love Kansas. I am very proud to be a Jayhawker. There are great people and events. Kansas has a major place in history from the free-state conflicts to the taming of the Wild West. We provide food to a lot of people around the world. I love driving through the Flint Hills and the wide variety of wildlife I can see everywhere. I don’t mind the thunder storms and other severe weather (I’ll take a tornado over an earthquake any day.) And let us not forget college basketball.
That said I can understand what most people are shaking their heads about the state considering some of the stuff our “leaders” have done or what has happened because of what they have done.
- In 2005, the state school board changed the science standards to allow local school boards to decide how they will teach the Creation vs Evolution issue.
- One of the first things Gov. Brownback did on taking office was to close down the Kansas Arts Commission.
- Kansas now requires a photo id to vote and the Secretary of State is looking at other restrictions.
- Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s reduced the state’s bond ratings in 2014 because of the massive tax cuts and budget shortfalls.
- Gov. Sebelious signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination against gay, lesbian and trans-gender state employees. Gov. Brownback rescinded that order in February of 2015.
- When the huge budget shortfalls caused by the tax cuts of 2012 became known in 2014, one of the first budget cuts involved changes to how the state public schools were funded. The change has caused school districts around the state to shorten their school year because there is no money to operate.
- In the latest budget discussions, Gov. Brownback threatened to completely cut the budget to the state colleges and universities.
- Also in the latest budget fight, the Governor threatened to furlong all non-essential state employees. Then he signed an order making all state employees essential.
- Kansas banned 2nd trimester abortions in 2015.
- Kansans now have the right to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or any training classes.
- Kansas welfare recipients receive their monthly stipend on a debit card. In 2015, the legislature passed a law limiting daily withdraws to $25 a day and banned the card’s use for a wide variety of foods and services. (This may change because of federal welfare requirements.)
- The legislature has given the Governor more power in the hiring and firing of state court judges.
- The courts have been threatened with funding cuts for decisions the Kansas executive branch doesn’t like.
I’m sure I have missed some of the changes. And I’m also sure that there are people who will agree with some of those changes. But focusing on the whole picture, how many people or business would move to Kansas right now? It’s a huge, live economic and social experiment. Anything can change at any time. Opening a business or moving for a new job is scary enough without walking into a tornado of confusion and power grabbing.