Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Kansans Aren't Guinea Pigs

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Kansans Aren't Guinea Pigs

Article excerpt

In an August column in The Topeka Capital-Journal, Washburn political scientist Bob Beatty noted the "near-continuous pattern of political and policy experimentation, tumult and revolution under the direction of Gov. Sam Brownback and (Kris) Kobach."

There's a reason why Kansas has had an outsized impact on national politics for a state of only 3 million people. From repressive voter ID laws to ultra-restrictive welfare policies to a stubborn refusal to expand Medicaid to massive tax cuts that cost billions of dollars over a few years, Brownback and other leaders in our state have been trying to construct a radically conservative model for the rest of the country.

Brownback has been explicit about this ambition. When he was interviewed about the state's welfare policies earlier this year, he said, "I think you're going to see a number of the things we've done expand across the country."

When he delivered the weekly GOP address in 2013, he described Kansas as a model on tax reform. And in a recent interview with The Associated Press, he reflected on the influence Kansas has had nationally: "It's amazing to me that a tax cut in Kansas was the dominant tax debate in this nation over the last five years."

Of course, he also insists that it's only a matter of time before states start emulating his fiscal policies: "I think you will see a lot of places start to tinker with, how do you stimulate small-business growth using this pass-through tax model." Despite the devastating consequences of the Brownback "model" in our state -- constant revenue shortfalls, credit downgrades, depleted reserves, stagnant economic growth, national humiliation, etc. -- he still thinks other states are eager to be just like Kansas.

Although Congress just passed a disastrously familiar package of tax cuts, there's no sign that states will be making the same mistake any time soon.

And it isn't just Brownback -- Secretary of State Kris Kobach has established himself as the most visible champion of stricter voter ID laws in the country. …

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