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Jan Resseger describes the after-effects of former Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s crash program to cut corporate and income taxes and expect an economic boom. The boom never came, but public services were strained to the breaking point.
Jan quotes liberally from Governing magazine:
Governing Magazine just published an extraordinary profile of Kansas state government—what was left of it after Sam Brownback’s tenure. Last November when a Democrat, Laura Kelly, took office, the new governor found herself assessing the damage from two terms of total austerity. Reporter, Alan Greenblatt describes a state unable to serve the public:
“To students of state politics, the failed Kansas experiment with deep cuts to corporate and income tax rates—which GOP Gov. Sam Brownback promised would lead to an economic flowering, and which instead led to anemic growth and crippling deficits—is well known. What is not as well understood, even within Kansas, is the degree to which years of underfunding and neglect have left many state departments and facilities hollowed out…. All around Kansas government, there are stories about inadequate staffing…. Staff turnover in social services in general and at the state prisons has led to dozens of missing foster children and a series of prison uprisings… During the Brownback administration, from 2011 to 2018, prison staff turnover doubled, to more than 40 percent per year, while the prison population increased by 1,400 inmates, or 15 percent. Guards have been burned out by mandatory over time and by pay scales that have failed to keep pace with increased insurance premiums and copays, let alone inflation. With inadequate and inexperienced staff, the prisons began employing a technique known as ‘collapsing posts,’ meaning some areas were simply left unguarded.”
The consequences for other states that tried to cut their way to prosperity were equally calamitous.