Monday, September 29, 2014

Kansas could use another New Deal

(The Kansas state flag. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Republican Governor Sam Brownback said he was going to run an experiment on Kansas citizens. A trickle-down experiment, to be precise. So, he lowered taxes on the wealthy and raised taxes on the poor. The results haven't been too good. Job growth has been meager, the state lost a healthy budget surplus, a state-funded homeless shelter had to close, education funding was cut, and the state's credit rating was downgraded. But, as is the case with most trickle-down devotees, Brownback and his legislative allies aren't too concerned. Indeed, they plan to grant even more tax cuts to the wealthy (see, e.g,  "Kansas Governor Wants To Double Down On Massive Tax Cut That Tanked State Finances").

Back in 1932 and 1936, Kansas sided with Franklin Roosevelt. It turned out to be a good choice, because the New Deal was good for the Sunflower State. For example, WPA workers created 20,000 miles of new or improved roads, 1,500 new or improved bridges and viaducts, 100 new or improved schools, 525 miles of new water lines, and much, much more. Also, 38,000 young unemployed Kansan men found jobs in the CCC and planted 6 million trees. There was PWA funding for infrastructure improvements, new Post Office buildings, and the creation of public art that is admired today. For a small sampling of New Deal creations that Kansas still enjoys & utilizes, see the Living New Deal's Kansas web page

In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave infrastructure in Kansas a letter grade of "C-" and noted the following: "Bridges were awarded a D+, in part due to Kansas’s nearly 3,000 structurally deficient bridges. Only five states have more structurally deficient bridges than Kansas"; "Schools earned a C+. There was a huge expansion in the 1950s where the amount of schools in Kansas more than doubled. These buildings are now 60 years old and many are in need of major repair or replacement"; "Dams earned the lowest grade of a D-. With 6,087 dams, Kansas has the second most dams in the United States next only to Texas. Of the state’s dams, 230 are classified as high hazard, meaning failure would likely lead to loss of life and significant property damage."

It seems that Kansas could use another New Deal, instead of another round of tax cuts for its wealthiest citizens.

(WPA statistics from the Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, by the Federal Works Agency, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946. CCC statistics from Roosevelt's Forest Army: A History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942, by Perry H. Merrill, Montpelier, VT, 1981).

No comments:

Post a Comment