Budget cuts – Remember October, when the sun was shining in Kansas and Gov. Sam Brownback talked about how he engineered the “Kansas Comeback”? Well, it’s not October anymore; it’s December, and there are no elections left to win for Brownback and his merry band of tax-cuts-cure-all lawmakers. And that means storm clouds are hiding all that would-be sunshine.
After downplaying the extent of Kansas’ financial problems in his re-election campaign, Gov. Sam Brownback took the first of many painful steps Tuesday to shore up the state’s leaking budget. The demoralizing, stopgap measures may further damage Kansas’ standing with bond rating agencies and don’t even pretend to get to the heart of the problem, which is the excessive tax cuts enacted by Brownback and the Legislature in 2012 and 2013.
Gov. Sam Brownback is reaping what he has sown. Whether he anticipated it, the governor’s radical income tax cuts have left a $279 million hole in the current state budget. In order to fill that hole, he is resorting to the kind of measures no household budget-maker could countenance.
Throughout his re-election campaign, Gov. Sam Brownback was steadfast in his belief that economic growth was coming and those who didn’t believe were a bunch of Chicken Littles – or at least part of the liberal media conspiracy. It did not matter some of the critics were national credit-ratings agencies that downgraded Kansas debt repeatedly. Voters who believed Brownback’s promises also want smaller government, so expense reductions are the way to go. Department heads, cabinet secretaries and most elected officials certainly aren’t going to resist.
Religious freedom – Proponents of “religious freedom” legislation claim it’s a way to protect the rights of religious Kansans who object to same-sex marriage. They’re wrong. It would be nothing more than state-sanctioned hate and discrimination, and as such warrants zero attention in the coming session.
Voting law – A news release from the Kansas Secretary of State’s office declared, “2014 Midterm Election a Success.” That assessment is based on the fact that more Kansans were registered to vote and more actually cast ballots in the Nov. 4 election than in any previous midterm election. That’s good news, but it doesn’t erase the state’s lingering backlog of about 20,000 voter registrations that are being held in suspense, most because they don’t include proof-of-citizenship information. Kansas legislators owe it to Kansas voters to fix this system.
If there had been a significant number of illegal voters, one would have expected to see a big drop in the number of those voting, frightened away from the polls for fear of being caught. But, in fact, the number of voters increased after the law’s implementation, proving there never was a problem. But pumping up the fear of hordes of illegal voters streaming over the border has proved to be a great way to further Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s career.