? If we were inclined to endorse candidates, we could not endorse Gov. Sam Brownback.
Over the years, it has been our practice not to endorse candidates running for elected office. Technically, we are continuing that tradition as we near the Nov. 4 election. But this year we cannot remain silent when it comes to the governor?s race. The stakes simply are too high. We want you to know why we would not endorse Sam Brown?back for a second term.
COMPETENCE. Gov. Brown?back set out to build the state?s future on a philosophical foundation that crumbled two decades ago: supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they practically pay for themselves. The financial fallout from the governor?s ?real live experiment? speaks for itself. In the recently completed fiscal year 2014, state revenue dropped $688 million from the year before, and Kansas spent $329 million more than it took in. Three months into fiscal year 2015, revenue remains below last year?s levels, placing the state on a track to exceed receipts by more than $650 million. Kansas?s credit rating has been lowered twice within the past year.
Duane Goossen, a Marion County native who served as budget director for three governors, stated last week: ?The state?s savings account does not have enough money left to cover the difference between rising expenses and falling revenue.? He is convinced schools and services are destined for deeper cuts even as our governor touts his economic accomplishments.
COMPATABILITY. Gov. Brownback is out of step with the majority of Kansans who believe one of the state?s primary obligations is to adequately fund a top-notch, public-school education for our children. We in Marion County have witnessed the negative impact of our governor?s budget leadership. Our schools have had to pull back; meanwhile, the governor?s allies are pushing for more deep cuts to fix the budget imbalance.
Bob Brookens, who represented us in Topeka from 2009-12, noted recently: ?Kansas was built on its system of public education and it will live or die by its public education. Tearing it to shreds is not good for Marion County and could be fatal for Kansas. Companies don?t come to Kansas for its low income tax. They come because we have had good schools where people can live and raise families.?
Gov. Brownback also is out of step with rural Kansas. Two fundamental shifts are under way in state and local finance. First, Brownback?s actions are pushing state obligations to the local level and moving the state and local tax burden from wealthy income taxpayers onto local property taxpayers. Second, as a result of these actions, property taxpayers in rural jurisdictions are bearing the primary burden of this shift, with tax increases dramatically higher than those in urban areas.
Ask our county commissioners about their struggle to maintain even basic services in Marion County with ever-shrinking support from Topeka. Our city and education leaders feel it, too. It?s not all their fault services are declining while your property taxes are rising.
CHARACTER. All politicians make selective use of facts and data, but Gov. Sam Brown?back has raised the spin bar to the level of plain-old deceit.
One example from his campaign script: Brown?back repeatedly has said he inherited a mere $876 in the treasury when he took office, and through his governance converted it into a $500 million surplus in two years. The truth? Money was flowing into the state treasury when Brownback took office in January 2011 because his predecessor, Democrat Mark Parkinson, signed into law a one-cent sales tax increase to rescue Kansas from the devastating effects of the 2008 recession. (The bill included a three-year sunset clause; for the record, it was our governor who made most of that tax permanent.) The state had $251 million in its bank account when Brownback was sworn in; the revenue flow was strong until his income tax cuts kicked in.
More troubling, in recent days Brownback has linked his opponent to the court?s decision to overturn the penalty in the Carr brothers murder case. What man of character would seek political gain by dragging those Wichita families through their darkest days? Paul Davis had nothing to do with any of that?except he happened to know one of the victims from high school days.
Competency. Compata?bility. Character. If it were our tradition to endorse candidates, we could not endorse Gov. Sam Brown??back for a second term based on his record. Our best advice as Nov. 4 nears: Set aside political labels for a moment; do the research rather than depend on TV ads; cast an informed ballot. ?DR