Opinion Columns & Blogs

Yael T. Abouhalkah: More bad jobs news for state, Brownback

It was a bad week for Gov. Sam Brownback and others who believe his massive income tax cuts are going to dramatically boost employment in the state.

A new report Friday showed that Kansas had lost a whopping 4,300 jobs in July from a month earlier. The unemployment rate climbed for the fourth straight month, up to 4.6 percent, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And look at this disastrous note: The Sunflower State now has 1,700 fewer jobs than it did at the start of 2015.

One more fact from the latest report shows that Kansas has added a puny 5,600 total jobs in the past year – from July 2014 to July 2015.

The new information shows that the tax cuts that have drained the Kansas treasury of hundreds of millions of dollars the past two years are not working to attract employers and jobs.

Meanwhile, Missouri gained 11,900 jobs in July, and now has added 30,900 for 2015. Yes, that’s without the huge tax cuts that Brownback and Co. put in place.

Earlier last week, a separate report showed Kansas is missing out on the growth in manufacturing employment, which is happening across much of the rest of America. One key statistic: Kansas lost 39,000 manufacturing jobs during the recession but has added just 4,000 since it ended.

So what left-wing group put that news out?

Actually, it came from the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, established in 2011 by Brownback “to track the health of the state’s economy and advise him on economic policy.”

Overall, Kansas has had one of the worst rates of employment growth in the nation in the past year.

Meanwhile, four leading GOP lawmakers – House Speaker Ray Merrick of Stilwell; Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita; and the chairmen of the Legislature’s two budget committees, Sen. Ty Masterson of Andover and Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr. of Olathe – tried to shame public schools that are asking for a little bit more in tax funds to help with extraordinary needs. They wrote a letter asking how the districts have “used efficiencies to improve outcomes in the classroom.”

These four are among the lawmakers who have refused to put in place any kind of evaluation of how “efficiently” several hundred thousand businesses are using millions of dollars in income tax breaks they are getting.

Kansas schools are being harmed by the great revenue shortfall that has resulted from these income tax breaks – even while it’s clear the cuts have not created a large number of jobs and tax revenue, as Brownback promised.

Yael T. Abouhalkah is a columnist with the Kansas City Star.

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