The Mainstream Coalition, an anti-religion organization, is calling the largest tax hike in Kansas state history “a success,” according to a quote in the Wichita Eagle.
“I did not think that we would have the success that we did. I think there’s still a lot of work to be done but I think what we’ve seen is a willingness for people to step up and do the right thing,” said Brandi Fisher, director of the Mainstream Coalition, told the Eagle.
Success, according to the coalition, is measured by how much money is ripped from the wallets of taxpayers. The Eagle describes Mainstream as a group that works to elect “centrist” lawmakers.
Like the definition of “success,” the word “centrist” is open to interpretation–not that the Eagle provides any context for either term. In 2016, the Mainstream Coalition made endorsements in 62 races in Johnson, Douglas, and Wyandotte counties. More than 69 percent of its endorsements went to Democrats. In four of the races in which the group endorsed Republicans, they offered endorsements to both the Democratic and Republican candidates.
That endorsement list is hardly “centrist” in Kansas, where 45 percent of registered voters in 2015 were Republicans compared to only 24 percent registered as Democrats. Mainstream’s endorsements are also far from center in the counties they hope to influence. In Douglas, Johnson, and Wyandotte counties, about 28 percent of registered voters are Democrats, compared to 40 percent registered as Republicans.
The Republicans the organization endorsed also appear out-of-step with the traditional Republican values of small government, free markets, and personal liberty. Kansas Policy Institute’s Freedom Index tallies lawmakers’ votes, giving positive scores to legislators who support those values with their votes and negative points for votes against those values.
Mainstream Coalition-endorsed Republicans didn’t fare so well on the index. For example, Mainstream co-endorsed Republican Sen. Dinah Sykes as well as her Democratic opponent Logan Heley. Voters elected Republican Sykes, who earned a negative 28 on the index. (A score of zero represents a legislator is neutral on issues of economic freedom and personal liberty.)
Mainstream also endorsed Rep. Jan Kessinger, an Overland Park Republican. Kessinger earned a negative 31 on the freedom index. Every winning candidate Mainstream endorsed for the Kansas Legislature notched negative scores on the index. Democrats Valdenia Winn and Kathy Wolfe-Moore earned the highest freedom index scores among Mainstream-endorsed candidates. They each earned scores of negative 13.
Republicans endorsed by Mainstream fared far worse. Reps. Shelee Brim and Tom Cox, for example, scored a negative 28 and a negative 24, respectively. While Republican Reps. Joy Koesten and Patty Markley’s scores tanked at negative 29.
Is the highest tax increase in Kansas history coupled with a budget that spends every dime and more a “success?” Are those freedom index scores “centrist?” They are according to the Eagle. Readers should take note.