Common Sense News

By John Carlin 
​As we look to the opening of the Kansas Legislative session next Monday and the Governor’s State of the State address on Tuesday, let us be mindful of the huge set of challenges ahead for Kansas to recover from the failed policies of the last six years. It will be more difficult and complicated than any governmental challenge I can recall in my lifetime. To be successful, at least three things need to happen. One, we need to make sure the whole story of our fiscal mess is out on the table and understood by the public. Second, we need to understand that despite the progress of electing more moderates in 2016, unless the new President finds a job for our Governor, we will have him for two more years. And third, we have to be very careful not to fall into a trap that is packaged as a strong first step in dealing with our problem.  

It is to that latter point that I wish to comment on today. The announcement that the two new chairs of the two tax committees would be pushing immediately for repeal of the Limited Liability Corporation tax cut sounds so encouraging. They even want to make it retroactive to January 1 to make the most of helping the state out of its fiscal crisis. However, in truth, this is nothing more than an effort to protect the bulk of the other negative changes in the Governor’s failed tax experiment. To his credit, Representative Jim Ward, the new House minority leader, quickly pointed out that this action makes dealing with the bigger, more complicated challenges even more difficult. "The question is: How many of these votes do you want to take?" Ward said. "And if you're going to take serious steps to address the problem—which is a structural budget problem—shouldn't we have a comprehensive approach?"

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Save Kansas: Coalition works for return of responsible governing

Save Kansas, an alliance of Republicans, Independents and Democrats, wants to abolish extremism controlling state government.

Consider Save Kansas’ list of sensible, traditional values, and how they’ve been trampled since ultraconservative Gov. Sam Brownback took office:


• Balanced tax policy. Kansas must pursue as much after the governor’s radical tax reform gutted income-tax revenue and created huge budget shortfalls.

• Quality educational opportunity. Ultraconservatives don’t like public education, and their interest in shifting taxpayer support to private and home schools with less stringent demands than K-12 public school districts is proof.

• Reasonable health-care access. Blocking Medicaid (KanCare) expansion has left some 150,000 Kansans, mostly working poor, without coverage. Plus, Kansas has passed on $1.15 billion — so far — in federal dollars that would help rural hospitals in particular.

• Adequate public safety. Problems range from reckless gun measures to shortchanged law enforcement efforts.

• Job growth and financial responsibility. Erasing income taxes for more than 330,000 farms and other business entities didn’t generate the significant job growth Brownback promised. And so much for fiscal conservatism with excessive borrowing, a significant sales tax increase and credit downgrades.

• Judicial impartiality. The run on an independent judiciary by a governor out to control all three branches of state government and eliminate resistance to his ultraconservative pursuits must be stopped.


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Governors Hayden and Carlin team up to Save Kansas!

In recent years Kansas has become frequent fodder for late-night comedians, and two former governors on Saturday placed the blame squarely on current Gov. Sam Brownback’s shoulders.

At a luncheon sponsored by Women for Kansas, former Democratic Gov. John Carlin (1979-1987) and Republican Gov. Mike Hayden (1987-1991) lambasted Brownback and the Legislature as the root of the state’s problems.

In 2012, Brownback slashed income taxes in the state, promising the move would provide “a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” The state has had problems balancing its budget since then.

“They should be ashamed,” said Hayden, whom Carlin referred to as a conservative. “We either need to get a reversal in course or we need to get new people in public office.”

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Kansans Deserve the Whole Story on Education Funding

By Jim Porter - State Board of Education 

We are consistently hearing from those political leaders who are resisting what many of us consider to be the adequate funding of education that Schools are receiving more state support than ever and that support is increasing every year.  Typically they say that people need to know the facts.  Well, that is part of the story and although not a false statement it is certainly deceptive.  I will make an attempt to explain the part of the story that they are not telling.

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Intolerance, intimidation, incompetence and irresponsibility.

The four I’s have been a hallmark of the extreme-right faction running the Kansas Statehouse since Gov. Sam Brownback took GCTelegram_Brownback.jpgoffice in 2011.

The governor’s intolerance was evident in 2012, when he worked to sideline Republican legislators who wouldn’t blindly follow his ultraconservative agenda.

Intimidation became the rule as the Brownback-led regime went on to bully lawmakers and others who dared to question its ideology.

As for incompetence, consider the epic 2012 blunder on tax policy.

That truly disturbing show of ineptitude saw Brownback’s side estimate his radical income-tax cuts would leave 191,000 small businesses paying no income taxes.

They had no idea more than 330,000 business entities would take advantage — so far. Beneficiaries of the tax cuts also did not use their savings to create jobs, as the governor promised.

Add in the even bigger amount of lost personal income taxes also delivered by Brownback’s tax reform, and the state has faced consistently staggering budget shortfalls.


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Brownback Legislators Never-Ending Budget Mess


"None of the choices are fiscally responsible, said Annie McKaythe executive director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, who noted the “irony” in Brownback’s proposals during a month he proclaimed as Financial Literacy Month. “We’re refusing to address the problem,” McKay said. “They’re all short, one-time fixes.”

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Kansas Legislative Races Top Priority

INSIGHT KANSAS: Making state legislative races count 
by Burdett Loomis

About 18 months ago, I wrote that the 2014 election for governor was “the most important election in your lifetime.” That declaration stands.

We knew in November 2014 that the Kansas economy was headed off the cliff, but we could not appreciate how far down we would fall. Voters actually did understand, according to exit polls, that the Governor Brownback’s income tax policies were failing.

If the high-dollar battle (roughly $17 million) between Senator Roberts and challenger Orman had not changed the focus to Obama from Brownback, it’s likely that the governor would have lost. Instead, he narrowly won four more years to continue of the so-called Kansas experiment.

But Governor Brownback is both term-limited and not on the ballot in 2016. So Democrats and centrist, sensible Republicans simply must focus on state legislative races this year. Period.

Forget Bernie, forget Hillary, forget whoever wants to challenge Senator Jerry Moran. Don’t give a cent to national campaigns. Not a cent. Kansas needs to return to its largely successful moderate-conservative government model of the past fifty years. We need to start electing responsible, non-ideological state legislators who will find ways to reverse the Brownback Administration’s truly disastrous policies.

So – how to do that? Honestly, it’s no mystery. Recruit good candidates. Provide them with money, the “mother’s milk” of politics. Encourage them to campaign with unbounded energy, starting now and not relenting until November 8. Work hard on their behalf, including extensive communications with your friends and acquaintances. 

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Kansas’ Pass-through Carve-out: A National Perspective Scott Drenkard

Official Testimony Submitted by:

Scott Drenkard
Economist & Director of State Projects, Tax Foundation

Kansas House Committee on Taxation

March 15, 2016

Chairman Kleeb, Vice Chairman Suellentrop, Ranking Member Sawyer, Members of the Committee,


Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. My name is Scott Drenkard, and I’m an economist and the director of state projects at the Tax Foundation. For those unfamiliar with the Tax Foundation, we are a non-partisan, non-profit organization that has monitored fiscal policy at all levels of government since 1937. We have produced the Facts & Figures handbook since 1941, we calculate Tax Freedom Day each year, and have a wealth of data, rankings, and other information at our website,  Kansas_Percertage_Map_Graphic.jpg

While we take no position on legislation, we hope to offer our insights and provide a national perspective on tax issues.

Kansas’ pass-through exemption is costly and forced other tax increases...

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Experimenter in Chief

For the past few years, Kansas's Republican Governor Sam Brownback and his allies in the state's legislature have been conducting a fiscal experiment involving big cuts in income taxes for individuals and businesses. The theory was that this "march to zero income taxes," as Brownback has called it, would spur entrepreneurship, economic growth and lots of job creation -- 25,000 new jobs in each of the next four years, Brownback pledged during his successful re-election campaign in 2014.

 Brownback_-1x-1.jpg There have been repeated budget shortfalls since Brownback first took office in January 2011, which have led to repeated proclamations in the national news media that the Kansas experiment has failed. In the sense that the tax cuts haven't paid for themselves, that's true.


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Public Finance 101: Brownback and Taxing Principles

Ed Olson 

Emeritus Professor of Economics

Kansas State University      

 Brownback_Failing_School.jpgAbout 40 years ago, Sam Brownback, a student at Kansas State University, enrolled in my public finance class. So I know that he once was exposed to the principles of a well-functioning tax system. As governor of Kansas, he has certainly not acted on them. Let me review what he should study anew.

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