Thursday, February 23, 2017

While its infrastructure falls apart, Kansas continues giving tax breaks to the wealthy... and then asks the federal government for a bailout

Above: On November 1, 1935 WPA Administrator Harry Hopkins tells reporters that Kansas Governor Alf Landon "balanced his budget in Kansas by taking money out of the hides of the needy." Today, with Sam Brownback in charge, things are even worse for Kansas. The state has taken money out of the hides of needy, handed out tax breaks to the wealthy, implemented regressive taxation on the middle-class & poor, and still has not balanced its budget. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

The state of Kansas, like the rest of the nation, has poor infrastructure. In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the state's infrastructure a letter grade of "C-". It received especially bad grades for its bridges (D+) and its dams (D-). See 2013 Report Card For Kansas' Infrastructure

The poor grades haven't stopped Governor Sam Brownback and his Republican colleagues in Kansas from continuing their years-long policy of massive tax breaks for the rich. And they've tried every trick in the book to get their hands on some cash while maintaining those tax breaks for the rich. They've raided their highway funds, they've raided their reserve funds, they've implemented regressive taxes on the middle-class and poor (e.g., sales and cigarette taxes), they've cut education funding (and they're about to cut it some more), and so on and so on. 

More recently, Kansas has been having problems with lead-contaminated water lines and plumbing, which can cause irreparable brain damage in children. See, e.g., "Report: Nearly 70 Kansas water systems violate EPA lead rules," Kansas Health Institute, June 29, 2016.

So, with all their infrastructure problems, and with their trickle-down economics experiment a proven failure (they have a huge revenue shortfall and they've had their credit rating downgraded multiple times), they've decided to end tax breaks for the rich, right? Nope, they're going to continue on. They just voted to continue coddling the super-wealthy, and make everyone else suffer for it. Whatever it takes to please their rich donors is what they intend to do. Cut education? Check. Neglect infrastructure? Check. Impose more regressive taxation on the middle-class and poor? Check.

But here's the really funny thing (funny as in sick): "Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is hoping the federal government can rescue several critical infrastructure projects that the state can no longer afford. The Brownback administration recently sent what amounts to a wish list to President Donald Trump for inclusion in his planned infrastructure initiative. It includes... $240 million in highway and bridge projects delayed or abandoned because of the state's ongoing budget problems... [i.e., because of the state's ongoing tax breaks for the rich]," ("Brownback Asks Trump To Save Some Kansas Highway Projects," KCUR, January 26, 2017). But how is Trump going to pay for infrastructure, when he too is planning to give massive tax cuts to the wealthy?  

That's right, folks. Brownback and his fellow trickle-down tricksters wrecked their budget with gargantuan tax breaks for the rich... and now they want the rest of the country (that means YOU) to pay for the infrastructure work that they can't (or won't). Imagine the gall it takes to (a) give your rich donors massive tax cuts, (b) raid your highway fund to pay for it, and then (c) ask non-Kansans to give you cash for your highways.

wow! Wow!! WOW!!!

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