Last Sunday morning, the Kansas Legislature adjourned for the 2013 session and left a path of destruction in their wake.
While Governor Brownback and the Kansas GOP committed multiple transgressions against Kansas and its people, two broken promises stood out above the rest: $777 million in new taxes and $66 million in cuts to Kansas schools.
Staring at a looming $802 million projected deficit, Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas Republicans spent the past few weeks arguing about how best to raise taxes on working Kansans.
In the end, Kansas Republican broke their campaign promises and voted to raise taxes $777 million by permanently raising Kansans’ sales tax rate to 6.15% from 5.7%, reducing income tax deductions like the home mortgage interest deduction, and cutting the standard deduction for married couples and heads of households.
The most shocking aspect of the Republican’s tax plan: it manages to raise the taxes of working and middle-class Kansans while cutting taxes for the rich.
The top 1% of Kansas wage earners will see their taxes cut on average $4,335 thanks to this legislature’s new tax plan. That will be balanced out by increases in income taxes on the poorest Kansans and increased sales taxes on all Kansans.
But Kansas Republicans didn’t stop there. In addition to making Kansas tax policy even more regressive, GOP lawmakers slashed $66 million in funding for Kansas universities. At a time when middle-class Kansans are struggling to afford college tuition, this short-sighted cut guarantees to only make matters worse.
In response, all Kansas universities are proposing raising tuition.
Fort Hays State: 3%
University of Kansas: 4.4%
Emporia State: 6.5%
Kansas State University: 6.7%
Pittsburg State University: 7.5%
Wichita State University: 8.1%
The proposed tuition hikes are a direct result of Kansas Republicans’ budget cuts and guarantee that fewer and fewer Kansas children will have the chance to achieve the American Dream. Maybe that’s why the Kansas Board of Regents described the Kansas GOP’s education budget as: short-sighted, vindictive, hypocritical, and irresponsible.
There was more to the 2013 session than just taxes and education. But no other issues will have as long-lasting and damaging impact as these two.
And no other issues better highlight what today’s Kansas Republican Party is all about. Kansas Republicans raised taxes on working Kansans $777 million and cut $66 million in higher education funding to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest Kansans.
The Kansas GOP: reward those who achieve the American Dream, but refuse to lend a hand to help you make it there.