By a 68-53 vote the Kansas House rejected a plan to increase taxes, and the Democrats made it all possible.
House Minority leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, voted against the proposal to increase individual income tax rates and end a tax exemption for non-wage business income as did a majority of his fellow Democrats. Their reasons for opposing the bill were far from uniform. Some thought it did not raise taxes enough.
The vote occurred on the fifth anniversary of Gov. Sam Brownback’s signing of his much-discussed tax reform package. The passage of those tax cuts stirred Democrats and media across the nation to a passion unprecedented in policy debates. Indeed, a coalition comfortable with a $20 trillion national debt found itself horrified–no, take that back, delighted–that a red state might be actually operating in the red.
For the last several years, the media and liberal think tanks have been misrepresenting the bill and its consequences to discourage other states from passing tax relief. As early as 2014, for instance, the Washington Post, was insisting, “Mr. Brownback’s Kansas trial is rapidly becoming a cautionary tale for conservative governors elsewhere who have blithely peddled the theology of tax cuts as a painless panacea for sluggish growth.” The bill went into effect a year earlier. Of late, they have used Kansas as a negative model to discourage President Trump from contemplating a tax cut.
Leading the charge for a tax increase in the Kansas House were “moderate” Republicans. More conservative Republicans in the House held a news conference on Monday to make their position clear. “You can’t tax your way to prosperity, folks,” said Wichita Republican Brenda Landwehr, stating what should be obvious but apparently isn’t.
During the debate itself, Derby Republican Blake Carpenter went so far as to read the Republican Party platform to remind his anxious colleagues that the Republicans were the party against tax increases. Said Carpenter, “This isn’t the last train out of the station, we still have time.”