In a fundraising letter calling out Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas legislature’s “dangerous” and “destructive policies” that have led to a “serious fiscal crisis” in the state, a bipartisan group of four ex-governors of Kansas urged voters to hit the polls in the upcoming Kansas elections to push back against his policies.
Written on behalf of the political organization Save Kansas Coalition, the letter aims to educate voters on the state’s public policy issues and to end the “calculated destruction of our revenue stream and our educational, healthcare, and transportation systems.”
Some of the organization’s requests were a call for a balanced tax policy; quality educational opportunity; reasonable healthcare access; safe highways and improved public safety; job growth and fiscal responsibility; and judicial impartiality. The coalition is made up of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. All four living elected governors of Kansas signed the letter, including Bill Graves, Mike Hayden, John Carlin and Kathleen Sebelius. Graves and Hayden are Republican. Carlin and Sebelius are Democrats.
Kansas’ state budget has struggled to stay out of deficit ever since Brownback passed a package of tax cuts for individuals and businesses in 2012 and 2013 meant to stimulate economic growth, spur entrepreneurship, and help the state’s budget. The tax cuts did not work. In fact, Kansas has fallen short of all those goals, “forcing legislators to slash spending on things like education and help for the poor. The state’s credit rating has been downgraded, and for all the trouble, its job growth has been absolutely anemic,” Slate reported.
Brownback has repeatedly pushed back on claims that his tax experiment failed, instead blaming the state’s financial issues on the lack of growth in agriculture, energy production, and aircraft manufacturing.
The letter was released on the same day that the Legislature held a special session to pass a school finance bill to keep the state’s schools open next week. Brownback said he would sign the bill, which would redistribute funds from wealthier school districts to meet a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to make funding fairer for poorer districts, the Kansas City Star reported.
Brownback’s tax cuts have cut “8 percent of the revenue [the state] needs for schools and other government services,” the New York Times reported in 2014. And in ten of the last 12 months, the state’s tax collections have fallen short of expectations.
The letter already drew criticism from the Kansas Republican Party, which called the move a “political stunt” from “four former governors who presided over massive and needless growth in the size of state government.”
A February Fort Hayes State University poll found that only 21 percent of Kansas citizens approve of Brownback.