by Murrel Bland
Lower taxes. Less regulation. More business growth.
That was the message that Gov. Sam Brownback brought to the Congressional Forum Friday, July 18, at the Reardon Convention Center. The Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the forum.
The speech was not billed as a campaign stop. However, all of the about 150 persons who attended the event were well aware that Brownback is in a fight for this political life as he seek a second four-year term. He will face Jennifer Winn of Haysville, a small town near Wichita, in the Primary Election Tuesday, Aug. 5.
The only Democrat candidate for governor is Paul Davis of Lawrence, a member of the Kansas House of Representatives and a lawyer from Lawrence. The general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Brownback was quick to say that during his tenure as governor, Kansas increased its private sector jobs by 55,000—the highest that it has been in the history of Kansas. At the same time, Brownback said state public sector jobs in Kansas have been cut by 3,000.
The governor said the state is in much better fiscal shape than when he took office. He said just before he took office, the state general fund had a balance of only $876.09; in fiscal year 2013, that fund balance was about $500 million.
A hallmark of Brownback’s administration is a sweeping income tax reduction—something that Brownback says will stimulate the state’s economy. He said that something dramatic has to be done to stop the decline in the state’s population. In 1960, Kansas ranked 29th among the 50 states in population. In 2010, that ranking was 33rd. And, projections are that in 2030, Kansas will drop to 35th.
Brownback’s critics, including some very prominent moderate Republicans, says that the state has always had a strong fiscal policy with a balance among three main tax sources—property, sales and income. These same critics say lower the income tax, particularly for the wealthy, is not a good policy. Brownback counters by saying lower income tax will attract those who will go into business for themselves. Several of these moderate Republicans have endorsed Davis. Political observers point out that there is a very serious split in the Republican Party with moderates supping Davis and the Tea party crowd backing Brownback.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that tax collections fells by $685 million during the first 11 months of this Brownback fiscal policy. Moody’s Investor Service recently downgraded the state’s debt rating.
Brownback blames the Obama administration and its excessive regulation for the lower state collections. He cited the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules that are forcing electric utilities to charge more.
Brownback says that the nine states with no income tax are the ones that have seen more economic growth. These include states such as Texas, Florida Wyoming and Alaska. However, his critics say that it is important to look at these states more closely. Most of them collect substantial tax revenue from mineral and oil production or tourism or both.
One of Brownback’s program to boost rural counties that have lost population is to waive income tax for college graduates who would move to the area and also help them pay their student loans. He said he hopes to create a similar program for urban areas such as Kansas City, Kan.
A person in the audience asked Brownback if he still had any plans to run for president.
“I just want to get re-elected governor,” he said.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.
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All Saints Catholic parish is planning a pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon Aug. 3 in St. Cyril’s Hall, 44 N. Mill St. Donations are $6 for adults and $3 for children 12 and younger.
Edwardsville United Methodist Church second Saturday supper on Saturday, Aug. 9, will consist of traditional picnic foods. Donations of $8 for adults and $3 for children are requested. The church is at 302 N. Fourth St, Edwardsville,
Judson Baptist Church, 8300 State Ave., plans a picnic Sunday, Aug. 3, at the fellowship hall.
“Scripture Study, Bible Sharing and Reflection, Lectio and Journaling,” a regular weekly series facilitated by pastoral minister, Heather Neds, is offered from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesdays at Keeler Women’s Center, 2220 Central Ave., Kansas City, Kan. This weekly Bible study group is based on the upcoming scripture readings from the Common Lectionary. There will be time for reflection, sharing and journaling. Call 913-906-8990 to register.
The Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City will hold a blood drive from 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 18 at Parkway Baptist Church classrooms, 12320 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kan. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit www.esavealifenow.org or call 816-753-4040.
St. Patrick’s CYO will benefit from the annual John Beggs Golf Tournament at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, at Painted Hills Golf Course, 71st and Parallel Parkway. Entry fee is $95 per person, including lunch and dinner. Pre-registration may be made to 913-645-5840. A marriage enrichment class will begin Wednesday, Aug. 6, at St. Patrick Catholic Church social hall, 94th and State Avenue. Classes will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 27. Dinner will be provided at 5:30 p.m. The classes are in a relaxed small-group atmosphere where topics such as problem solving, decision making, communication, hidden issues and commitment may be discussed. Trained facilitators will lead the class. The class is sponsored by Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. Pre-registration is necessary to www.KansasLoveLetters.com or 913-906-8925.