Butler County Times Gazette
  • Kent Bush: Where are the real conservatives?

  • Even though Kansas Republicans aren’t all “real” Republicans, Kansas Democrats are real Democrats.
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  • There is a big difference between a tax cut and a tax shift.
    As the title of Judge Judy’s autobiography crassly says, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”
    I get so tired of the conservative headline grabbing policies regarding cuts to the state income tax and Gov. Sam Brownback claiming Kansas is going to rival Texas in tax burden.
    That’s like a football team losing 63-14 but claiming a 14-7 victory in the fourth quarter. That “tax cut” is costing Kansans a lot of money.
    Even though Kansas Republicans aren’t all “real” Republicans, Kansas Democrats are real Democrats.
    “It was Robin Hood in reverse,” said Kansas State Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, the Senate minority leader. “It's an unfair income tax.”
    In order to “cut” income taxes, the false prophets from the church of conservatism had to leave an elevated sales tax and remove many tax credits from income tax law.
    Sales taxes have an increased negative impact on lower income families because they spend a greater portion of their income.
    Hensley said that the wealthiest one percent of Kansans will see an average tax cut of $21,000 while the poorest 20 percent of state residents will see an overall tax increase.
    Another place these alleged cuts hurt the state is skyrocketing local property tax rates just to maintain the status quo in schools.
    It wasn’t bad enough that we have cut state funding so far that parents are now paying between $75 and $100 per student just to enroll students and teachers and parents are forced to buy all of the supplies for the classroom, now local school boards face the prospect of increasing local mill levees or enduring another round of cuts.
    We are also discouraging higher education by forcing college students to bear the brunt of cuts to higher education with significant tuition increases almost every year.
    Isn’t a better educated work force also important to business recruitment? Why would we make college less accessible?
    Kansas lawmakers including the governor have no proof that their decision to shift tax money from income taxes to other sources is helping bring business into the state. But they have all heard anecdotal evidence that those new jobs are just around the corner.
    There is one problem with that. Anecdotes aren’t evidence.
    I remember sitting across a table during an editorial board meeting with Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating who wanted to pass right-to-work laws in the state. He told me of many anecdotal instances of companies promising to come to Oklahoma when the union-busting measure passed.
    Page 2 of 2 - Of course he couldn’t violate their anecdotal confidence by revealing which companies were anecdotally planning to move to the state. So I asked, somewhat politely, for the governor to let me know when one of those companies moved to the state after he got the measure passed.
    I never got dozens of calls from the governor or an aide telling me about new companies moving to the state to enjoy paying formerly unionized employees $7 an hour. I know the governor was busy, but trust me when I tell you, Francis Anthony Keating was the kind of guy to call a smart aleck 28-year old editor and let him know how wrong he was.
    I’m no different than anyone else. I don’t like paying taxes and I love a good tax cut. But I only like real tax cuts. The tax recipe the state legislature is cooking up is just a revenue shift that has a net increase in tax burden for those in the state who can afford it the least.
    It’s too bad we don’t have more Democrats in the state legislature so we could at least have gridlock. Doing nothing would be a big improvement over the tax plan the Kansas legislature has put in place.
     
    Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: kbush@augustagazette.com
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