The New York Times reports that Democrats picked up 13 state legislative seats in Kansas, a state that Donald Trump carried by 20 points.
What happened? Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts happened.
In parts of Kansas, they punished conservative legislators linked to Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax-cutting doctrine, instead gravitating toward moderate Republicans and Democrats like Mr. Parker who blame the governor and his legislative allies for imperiling the state’s finances and putting public schools at risk.
“Their goal was very simple, and that was to associate me with Brownback,” said James Todd, the two-term Republican lawmaker Mr. Parker challenged here in suburban Kansas City. “That obviously was effective enough to beat me.”
The Kansas example illustrates the wisdom of Gov. Asa Hutchinson and key legislative leaders in 1) continuing to support Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and the federal money it produces; 2) resisting massive income tax cutting despite immense pressure from some in the party to do much more than Hutchinson has already achieved and further proposed.
Arkansas already is giving the tiniest bit of increased spending to needy schools and tapping general revenue for the first time to pave highways. It has committed vast sums to subsidize private business and chamber of commerce lobbyists. It is already more profligate with tax cutting and corporate welfare than I might prefer, to the detriment of public services. But its leaders are vastly more responsible than Brownback. The Kansas experience suggests that, politically, they may be onto something.
Speaking of Republican management in the heartland: Here’s an article about Oklahoma and its $868 million fiscal hole.
The declining revenue is largely the result of plunging oil and natural gas prices and the ripple effect that has had on Oklahoma’s energy-based economy, but it also stems from tax cuts and generous tax subsidies put in place for businesses and industries, including oil and gas companies.
[Secretary of Finance Preston] Doerflinger said that while he generally supports a low-tax environment, he indicated a willingness to delay any further cuts to the state’s income tax rate.
“I’m not sure right now is the best time to be cutting the income tax,” he said.