Battleground Kansas: Why the Left is freaking out over Brownback’s conservative reforms

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), calls the Kansas gubernatorial election “the most important race” in the 2014 cycle. Certainly, with Republicans poised to take the Senate and a number of close gubernatorial match-ups, there’s no shortage campaigns to watch.

But out of all the close races, the Left is focused like a laser on the Sunflower State.

The Senate race got weird when the Democrat nominee dropped out, leaving three-term Republican Senator Pat Roberts to fend off just one opponent — independent candidate Greg Orman, who conveniently isn’t taking many positions on hot-button issues or announcing who he’ll caucus with if he wins.

Kansas hasn’t elected a Democrat (or a non-Republican) to the U.S. Senate since the 1930s, but the governor’s mansion has a 40-some-odd year history of flipping back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, so anything can happen.

But why is the Left so focused on Kansas? It’s simple: They hate Governor Brownback’s income tax reforms and don’t want them to spread to other Republican-controlled states.

ATR’s Norquist, writing at Human Events, describes Brownback’s achievement:

The genius of Brownback’s 2013 legislation to abolish the income tax over time is that the law now states that each year that state revenue comes in above a two percent increase—and this happens in a normal period of modest growth—all the additional revenue is used to permanently reduce the state personal income tax. Beginning in 2019, after the first round of tax rate reductions are enacted, every year the personal income tax rates will fall until they hit zero. Then the corporate income tax rate will be brought down year by year to zero. Lastly, Kansas has a banking tax that will then be reduced to zero. The tax rates will ratchet down every year there is modest growth in state revenues.  Kansas can—and now by law will—fund necessary government expenses out of the revenues from growth over time and use those to replace the personal and business income taxes.

In the past opponents of tax cuts have argued that “we wont’ be able to pay for all the wonderful ‘services’ people want.” The Brownback reform reduces tax rates as more revenue comes in from  natural growth in the economy. It stops the state from capturing the higher revenues created by the hard work and productivity of Kansans. That additional revenue flows back to taxpayers in lower tax rates.  Government is paid for–but not paid to grow without reason.

At National Review Online, Amity Shlaes highlights the success of Brownback’s reforms. She also notes that, with few exceptions, the national media all but ignores Kansas. This is one such exception. Governor Brownback jokes the national media hasn’t covered Kansas this thoroughly since the Civil War.

Shlaes says Brownback is running against the liberal newspaper editor’s dream headline: “Failed Experiment.”

Governor Brownback told United Liberty why the Left is coming after him so strongly. “They don’t like the income tax cuts,” Brownback explained. “They don’t like us going to zero taxes on small business. They don’t like reforming the pension system.”

The ramifications of Kansas phasing out its income taxes are tremendous. Currently, seven states have no income tax whatsoever, and two other states tax investment income.

Republicans control state legislatures in 26 states, and are poised to pick up a few more this cycle. A Brownback victory in Kansas could empower Republicans in other states to begin phasing out their state’s income tax.

That’s why, Norquist suggests, the Left is so hell-bent on taking Brownback out. And that’s why it’s so important for conservatives that Brownback win.

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