Voters in 36 states will be choosing governors this November. Over the next several months, the Tax Justice Digest will be highlighting 2014 gubernatorial races where taxes are proving to be a key issue. Today’s post is about the race for Governor in Kansas.
This Kansas gubernatorial election is shaping up to be a referendum on Governor Sam Brownback’s tax cuts and supply-side economics generally. Governor Brownback’s record on taxes has made national headlines. Two years ago, Brownback declared that his plan to gradually repeal the state’s income tax would be “a real live experiment” in supply-side economics. He pushed through two consecutive income tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the richest Kansans (while actually hiking taxes on the state's poorest residents), assuring the public these cuts would pay for themselves. Yet, the state ended this fiscal year $338 million short of total projected revenue amid concerns that Brownback’s income tax cut package is causing more bleeding than initially anticipated.
House Minority Leader Paul Davis is the Democrat who will most likely be challenging Brownback in November (the primary is in early August). Davis recently unveiled an economic plan which includes postponing the last round of Governor Brownback’s income tax cuts thus keeping income tax rates at their January 1, 2015 levels (though Davis has stopped short of calling to undo all of the Brownback tax cuts). He is also proposing a bipartisan tax commission to study “accountability measures within the tax code and targeted incentives for job growth” and “proposals aimed at reversing the $400 million property tax increase that has occurred during the Brownback administration.”
Perhaps no gubernatorial election this year will be as intensely focused on taxes as the contest in Kansas. Stay tuned.