Let’s learn a lesson from the Great Experiment with voodoo economics in Kansas.
Since 2013, the national job growth rate has been 7.6 percent but it has only been 3.5 percent in Kansas. There are 34 hospitals in the state that are now at risk of going out of business. Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded its credit rating, increasing their cost of borrowing. Public schools are so short of money that two districts were compelled to end their year early. Brownback found himself so desperate for operating capital that he looted the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System and slashed funding for the state’s transportation system.
In short, things got so bad that the Republican-dominated legislature overrode Brownback’s veto and passed a budget that, among other things, rolled back his tax cuts and provided more funding for schools.
The Democrats should not ignore these results. They should study them and they should figure out a way to highlight them relentlessly so that as many people as possible internalize the lessons. No people should have to endure what the people of Kansas have endured if it can be avoided. Republican office seekers will continue to assure us that the best way to raise revenue is to ask for less of it and that exempting businesses and limited liability corporations from taxation will lead to job growth. They’ll continue to starve education budgets with talk about providing choice, and they won’t stop attacking Medicaid even as it results in devastation for the health care system. But we can point, in all these cases, to Sam Brownback and Kansas.
We can say that we tried all that and here is how it turned out.
We are seeing the same attempt at this magical thinking here in Florida with Gov. Rick Scott and a state legislature that thinks cutting taxes and privatizing public facilities like prisons and schools will be our way to prosperity. The advantage Florida has over Kansas is that it’s a global tourist destination until the sea levels rise up and Orlando becomes a coastal city. (But not to worry; if you don’t say the words “climate change,” it won’t happen.)
The conservatives who think like Gov. Brownback and Gov. Scott will tell you the reason the Kansas experiment failed is that it didn’t go far enough; when the true test came, the lily-livered moderates caved to reality and wouldn’t go on with draining the state dry of any kind of tax revenue and hindering real growth which can only happen when everybody keeps what they earn. And the kids get two extra months of summer vacation.