Kansas Governor Brownback Shutting Out the Public on Tax Debate


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Reforming a state’s tax structure and the planning, meetings, and discussions that go into such a monumental and consequential project shouldn’t happen behind closed doors.  After all, taxes are fundamental to government and its activities and they impact everyone.

But apparently Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s administration sees it differently.

The media has been reporting that the Governor will come out with a new tax reform proposal before the end of the year. We know that he’s enlisted the help of mega-supply sider Arthur Laffer to assist him and that Laffer is getting paid about $75,000. But that’s where the information stops. We can assume a task force or committee of some type is meeting, but that’s really all anyone knows.

The Lawrence Journal-World recently sent an email to the Brownback administration to attempt to gain “access or copies of minutes, agendas and policy papers of the task force.” But the governor’s people are throwing up bureaucratic excuses and indicated they might need seven weeks to comply. At which point the task force might be disbanded and Governor Brownback’s plan already complete.

Governor Brownback, his administration and his task force group should abandon this secrecy strategy.  The Wichita Eagle points out that given the political climate in Kansas, transparency is of paramount concern: “With the 2010 election having left the Legislature rich with conservatives ready to implement Brownback’s sweeping agenda without much second-guessing, transparency and scrutiny are needed now.”

State Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, agrees. “Right now,” he said, “there are a lot of ideas being floated around, but what they all seem to be missing is citizen input.”

You know what they say about sunlight – it’s time for Governor Brownback to let it shine on this important policy-making process.

Photo of Art Laffer via Republican Conference and photo of Sam Brownback via KDOTHQ Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

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