Prairie Politics

Kansas Democratic leader: Brownback tax consultant should give back $75,000 fee

Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley wants economist Art Laffer to refund the consulting fee he received when he advised Gov. Sam Brownback on tax policy.
Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley wants economist Art Laffer to refund the consulting fee he received when he advised Gov. Sam Brownback on tax policy. File photo

Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley wants economist Art Laffer to refund the consulting fee he received when he advised Gov. Sam Brownback on tax policy.

Hensley, D-Topeka, has long been one of the harshest critics of the aggressive tax cuts, which Brownback championed and signed into law in 2012. On Friday, Hensley called on Laffer, the controversial economist who helped create the policy, to return the $75,000 he received from the state as a consultant.

Hensley said in a news release that Laffer’s consultation not only cost the consultation fee but also “billions of dollars in lost revenue. Dr. Laffer’s advice ... is now jeopardizing the future of our schools, our roads, and our most vulnerable citizens. While it is unrealistic to believe that Dr. Laffer could refund the billions of dollars in lost revenue, I believe it is more than reasonable to ask for him to pay back the $75,000.”

The state is on pace to spend $800 million more than the tax revenue it will take in next fiscal year. Even after making transfers from the state highway fund and other sources, the state is projected to have a shortfall of more than $400 million. Many critics blame this in large part on Brownback’s tax policy.

Eileen Hawley, the governor’s spokeswoman, dismissed Hensley’s attack and said in an e-mail that the tax policy has resulted in low unemployment and “has put millions of dollars back in the hands of Kansans to invest or save as they choose. The Governor’s focus is on solving problems and moving the state forward, rather than engaging in unfounded hyperbole.”

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