For someone who campaigned claiming “the sun is shining in Kansas,” it’s not too surprising that Gov. Sam Brownback is still in denial, blaming the media for why his policies are so unpopular.
But it’s disappointing that he doesn’t respect the intelligence of Kansans and their ability to recognize a disaster when they see it.
Voters in this year’s elections rejected many GOP lawmakers who supported Brownback’s policies. But in a meeting last week with reporters from The Eagle and the Kansas City Star, Brownback claimed that Kansans don’t understand those policies.
Brownback noted that voters backed moderate candidates who want more money in schools and the state’s pension system, a fairer tax system and an end to taking money from the state highway fund. He wants those things too, he argued.
“It’s not like that was all counter to my policies,” he said.
He then accused the media of creating a false perception that he was anti-education and that the Kansas economy was not doing well.
Blaming the media has been recurring theme for Brownback. He made the rounds this fall complaining about media myths and attempting to “set the record straight” on his tax policies.
But it wasn’t the media that created the shortfall in the state budget; it was Brownback.
When Brownback slashed taxes, he promised it would act “like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” As Kansans can clearly see, that didn’t happen.
Kansas has continued to trail the nation and region in job growth. In fact, the state has lost jobs this year.
Meanwhile, the tax cuts resulted in a huge loss of revenue and recurring budget shortfalls. That led Brownback and the Legislature to raise the sales tax, institute block grant funding for education, delay payments to the state pension fund, and transfer more than $1 billion from the state highway plan.
Yet even with all these maneuvers, the state still faces a shortfall of more than $900 million over the next 18 months.
It’s no wonder an overwhelming majority of Kansans think the state is on the wrong path – 70 percent, according to a recent survey by Fort Hays State University’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs. Even more Kansans – 74 percent – are dissatisfied with Brownback’s job performance.
Kansans also aren’t confused in their understanding of Brownback’s tax exemption on pass-through business income – 61 percent want it repealed. And 62 percent of Kansans want the state to expand Medicaid, which Brownback opposes.
Brownback’s policies, not the media, are why so many of his allies weren’t re-elected and why he has had the lowest approval rating of any governor in the nation.