Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): A Test of Wills

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Test of Wills

This legislative session is clearly going to come down to a test of wills. The group that digs its heels in hardest will walk away with some integrity. All other legislators are going to look like lily-livered, spineless eels. It's going to be so gross.

I write that not as an accusation. Compromise is going to be necessary, but we find ourselves in a place where honest compromise and negotiation are going to be nearly impossible.

If you think government spends too much (Ahem. This girl.), where do you compromise? There's simply no path. The Brownback plan increases government spending. Taxes on cigarettes! Taxes on alcohol! Taxes and more taxes, only less taxes than whatever hellish solution comes out of the Senate--where they seem to be seriously considering parts of the RiseUp plan, also known as the Great Wealth Transfer™. Under those genius's tutelage, the budget may just take money from the pockets of all the humans who have jobs and give it directly to teachers unions and construction workers, after laundering it through state coffers, of course. It is the Worst Plan in History™. 

So if you're a person who thinks government could shed a few pounds, you're in a boat alone in the middle of stormy waters. 

Over in the House, it appears the Democrat plan is to sit back and eat sandwiches the whole session. Those guys aren't going to vote for anything. They showed their hands when they named Rep. Jim Ward as House minority leader. He basically said he won't vote for a one-off LLC-loophole close; he'll only vote for a comprehensive tax package. I'm pretty sure I know the steps to that dance routine. When someone introduces a "comprehensive tax package," there will be some other reason he can't support it. He's probably got tap shoes lined up for every member of the Democratic Caucus in the House. (This is the long game in hopes that the Dems can retake the Governor's Office in 2018.) 

Back in the Senate, the likely purveyors of the Take all the Money and Throw It at Anyone Who Says a Mean Thing™ plan, are about to approve Senate rule changes designed to crush the spirits of even the strongest willed. I speak of a proposed rule change that would allow Senate leadership to make an undebatable motion to recess until a certain time. They're set to vote on this one today. Basically, this new rule will allow leadership (or Senate members) to extend the legislative session under the same legislative day. On the books, it will make it appear as though the session is fewer days than it may in actuality be. This little quirk also means legislators would only be paid for the one day instead of the actual number of days. In short, this will be used as a negotiation tactic, because there are members of the Senate who may not be able to afford staying in session for the rest of their lives with only a day's pay to show for it. 

With an inability to get an agreement of any sort in the House--no faction has the numbers--and a Senate gearing up to throw dissenters under a fiscal bus, Kansans are virtually assured a spike in spending and a bucket full of new taxes. 

The compromise position will require more taxes. For example, the laughable RiseUp proposal includes an 11 cent per gallon gas tax increase. (I will cut someone.) The "compromise" is a smaller gas tax. It makes me physically ill that we're about to tax off the deep end while Missouri is over there with some conservatives in power. Our current legislature is actually gearing up to stick a dagger in Johnson County. If by some miracle KCMO gets its education act together, JoCo will slowly cease to be the economic engine of the state. It's real trouble friends, with a capital "T" that rhymes with "P". And that stands for politics. The tragic part is the disastrous results of a fiscally sane Missouri and a Kansas Legislature acting like Detroit leadership won't be obvious for several years. This makes bleeding Kansas to a slow death the politically easy thing to do. Head desk.

Here's the unicorn I would like to see: A refusal of conservatives in the House and the Senate to vote for any proposal that increases bottom line government spending. This means for every tax increase added, there should be an equal or greater spending cut somewhere else. The likelihood of that happening is right up there with the probability of me marrying Prince Harry. 

It's going to be a very long session culminating in an epic test of wills. May the most frugal and principled win.

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