Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): I hope I'm wrong about this...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I hope I'm wrong about this...

Gov. Brownback's State of the State Address really rubbed me the wrong way.

He said most of the right things, but something about it was uncomfortable, like sand in my socks after a walk on the beach. I needed a few hours to get to the bottom of what stinks in Brownback's plans.

I shouldn't have to repeat this, but for first-time listeners/first-time callers, I am a conservative. I supported Brownback and I have the Brownbacker t-shirt to prove it. Please take what I'm about to write with a grain of kosher sea salt, and know that these criticisms are coming from the far right.

There were four major segments of his speech -- preparing children for the future; jobs and economic growth; two-year budget proposal; and government reform. I'm fully onboard with one of the four, of course, it's the one he mentioned last. Were these ideas in order of priority? I guess time will tell.

My biggest frustration was that the Governor proposed more spending than cuts in his speech. And so my primary argument, one the liberals will argue, is math. Come on, man -- Brownback just lobbed it up to them like a floater in the ninth inning with bases loaded and the game on the line. I do not know how one can propose things like $12 million for a Kansas Reads to Success Initiative, new funding for KU Med, a new crime lab for Washburn University, fully-funded T-Works AND promise no cuts to education or services while stepping down a ladder to no income taxes.

These things are impossible without raising additional revenues. ("Revenue" by the way, is just a code word for taxes. Every time it comes out of a politician's mouth, you should reflexively hold onto your wallets.) I recognize the answer to spending more money is "growth." But let's actually SEE the growth before we promise money for new initiatives. How 'bout that for an idea?

Part of Brownback's plan to make the math work includes extending a 1 cent sales tax that was set to expire this year. My answer to that isn't just no, it's hell no. When that tax was passed two years ago, members of the legislature, specifically Republicans, promised, I mean PROMISED, that most of the tax would sunset. Mark this down: Any Republican legislator who votes to extend that tax needs to be removed from office at the next possible opportunity. This is simply a matter of character for individuals who made that promise and a matter of principle to conservatives. If they can't keep that promise, we can't trust them to keep other promises.

Which brings me to my next concern: Brownback's other plan to "make up the revenue" for an anticipated shortfall and for his new spending initiatives involves getting rid of the mortgage deduction in exchange for lower income tax rates. I don't like it.

While I am an adamant fan of a fair or flat tax, my crystal ball is pretty clear on how this particular plan will go down. We'll end up scrapping the mortgage deduction, which make no mistake, will result in a tax increase for the majority of Kansans, and getting blamed for it. Meanwhile, those proposed steps down the ladder to an income tax rate of zero will never materialize. (Write that one down, too, because a few years from now, I want to be able to say I told you so.)

In his speech, Brownback mentioned exactly one cut or spending reduction -- streamlining the Kansas Department of Transportation and Kansas Turnpike Authority. It's a start, but in my mind, I would prefer a speech that incorporated two cuts to one new initiative. That's not what we got.

Instead, we were fed a series of initiatives, one potential cut and the promise of no cuts to education (54 percent of the budget) or essential services. I can do math and I don't buy it.

1 comment:

  1. I think you're "right on" in this article.

    And Gidget: I love you.