Top Republicans in the Kansas legislature are going out of their way to dissuade Mississippi legislators from passing tax cuts for the rich.
According to the nonprofit news outlet Mississippi Today, leading Republican lawmakers in Topeka are beseeching their fellow Republicans in the Magnolia State to pay special attention to state finances as they implement a significant tax cut package that primarily benefits wealthy Mississippians and corporations.
Kansas lawmakers told Mississippi Today that a similar tax cut package signed by Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback in 2011 decimated the state’s revenues, leading to severe cuts to essential state services like public education and Medicaid. In 2014, for example, Gov. Brownback faced sharp criticism for kicking disabled people off of Kansas’ Medicaid rolls.
“I don’t want to use hyperbole, but a lot of people die when these policies get implemented,” Bullers told ThinkProgress at the time.
“Tax cuts, especially significant ones, should be looked at very carefully before implementing them,” said Republican Kansas state senator Randall Hardy in an interview with Mississippi Today. “Our experience here was not positive. The desired results never happened. We did not see any of the increases in job creation that were supposed to happen, we did not see the tax rolls increase.”
“Use us a cautionary tale,” Kansas state representative Melissa Rooker, a Republican, told the outlet. “I’m all for efficient use of taxpayer dollars. But when you cut too deeply, you cut past the point of efficiency.”
Senate Bill 2858 — Mississippi’s controversial tax cut package — was signed into law by Republican Governor Phil Bryant in May of 2016, which would cut taxes by more than $400 million over a 12-year period. The bulk of the tax cut is encapsulated in the elimination of the corporate franchise tax, which brings in $260 million per year, according to the Jackson-based Clarion-Ledger. Business lobbying groups like the Mississippi Economic Council had been pushing lawmakers to eliminate the tax prior to the signing of SB 2858.
Kansas’ tax cuts, which would have eventually eliminated the state’s income tax entirely had they remained in place, took a toll on the state’s public education system. As HuffPost reported in 2015, several Kansas school districts were forced to close early for the summer early due to a lack of funding, following Gov. Brownback signing $51 million in public education cuts into law. Last month, Kansas Republicans eventually voted to raise taxes despite Gov. Brownback’s opposition.
Matthew P. Robbins is an economics reporter for Grit Post covering wages, budgets, and taxes. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his husband and two cats.