Look at tax cut results elsewhere

Our state legislature and governor are proposing a cut in the state income tax. I don’t know if this is wise or if it will have disastrous effects. None of us can know the future.

One guide is to look at past history. We are taught that our system of state governments allows experimentation on a state level. We can experiment and find effective systems.

While reading Jared Diamond’s “Upheaval,” I found mention of a Kansas tax cut experiment. A little research established that in 2012 and 2013, at the urging of Gov. Sam Brownback, Kansas lawmakers cut the top rate of the state’s income tax by almost 30 percent and the tax rate on certain business profits to zero. This was going to provide strong growth in economic output, job creation, and new business formation. This sounds like the current proposals for West Virginia.

In fact the Kansas tax cuts were repealed five years later. In these five years, ending in 2017, private-sector job growth was lower than its neighbors and less than half the national average. Revenues plunged, cuts were made in education and other vital services, and the state’s bond rating was downgraded. It was bad enough that on June 6, 2017 the legislature terminated Brownback’s experiment.

By 2019 Kansas seemed to be recovering from the tax cuts and this year the legislature is again considering new income tax cuts.

I hear lots of claims and proposals from our governor and legislature but only superficial discussion about results in other states that have cut income tax.

In view of the results of the Kansas experiment, I must oppose the new income tax reduction proposed by the governor. I must also oppose the Republican idea to automatically lower state revenues by a fixed amount each year and reducing income tax to achieve that amount. It is very easy to offer the voters tax reductions without having to specify where cuts will be made; schools, infrastructure, or other vital services. Which will you sign up to do without?

Sen. Jeff Longbine, a current Kansas Republican, remembered the 2012 tax cuts when he voted against the 2021 budget cuts in Kansas saying “Fool me once, you won’t fool me twice.”

Warren Peascoe



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