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Yael T. Abouhalkah: Kansas trailing region, nation

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Thursday, April 3, 2014, at 12 a.m.

A new report contains bad news for Kansans, for Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign and for all the Republicans who embrace tax cuts as the answer for everything.

Oh, and it’s good news for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis, who wants to unseat Brownback this year and restore some sanity to the state’s tax policies.

A new report from within Brownback’s own administration indicates that tax cuts that took effect in 2013 are not boosting the state’s economy.

Indeed, the state is not keeping up with the rest of the nation and a group of six neighboring states in a number of key statistical areas.

The March report reviews trends in the Kansas economy over the past year and over a five-year period. The document is worth reading for a couple of reasons.

First, it comes from the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. That’s not a group anyone can claim is out to undermine or attack the governor. Instead, it looks at the facts, as it should, in several areas. In fact, Brownback is the chairman of the group.

Second, it paints an unvarnished truth that should be a great concern to all Kansans who care about the state’s future. And it’s a truth that Democrats are likely to pounce on as they run against Brownback and other Republicans in the Legislature this fall.

Some of the main takeaways show that Kansas lags the six-state neighbors and the United States when it comes to growth over the past year in:

•  Private-industry wages.

•  Private-sector employment growth.

•  Per capita personal income.

•  State gross domestic product.

•  Population.

Kansas is behind the region in personal income growth but ahead of the U.S. average. And Kansas stands out in the growth of building permits.

But that’s hardly enough to overcome the fact that Kansas is trailing other states in key economic areas, all within the time frame of when the recent tax cuts have been in place.

Yael T. Abouhalkah writes for the Kansas City Star.

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