Today's Republican Party has gone from one that supports making investments, like education and infrastructure, as carefully and conservatively as possible, while still getting done what needs to be done, to no longer caring at both the state and national level. For the far-right Republicans, which include true believers as well as those just afraid of a primary at the next election, it is as much as anything an anti-government philosophy. Working nicely with that thinking is of course tax cuts, particularly for the rich who fund politics in this direction.
Sound conservative thinking used to include wisely investing in key areas necessary for the good of the people and solid commerce. In the end, underfunding costs the taxpayers more. Why? Getting behind on road and highway maintenance just guarantees higher costs. Not investing in our children at an early age only leads to lives under utilized and more expenses. Communities that do not find or have the resources for dealing with legitimate human needs are not where people who have options want to live, which leads to higher taxes and less in return for those who have to stay behind.
And now in the current Kansas Legislature, some Republicans are trying to take advantage of a new national tax law to pass along another state tax break that primarily benefits the rich. We need to fund public education at a responsible and constitutional level, at least avoid further cuts to higher education to limit tuition increases, and get back to taking care of our infrastructure. On top of this, we continually turn down federal money for Medicaid expansion, something so desperately needed and wanted by many.
How did this happen? As I stated earlier, the shift started at the beginning of the 90’s. One thing for sure, you have to give credit to these early movers and shakers. They knew what they were doing and they started at the grassroots of Republican politics. They were patient, knowing this seismic shift would take time. But, most important, they were great at framing their message, using the right words to be most effective. To turn this around, some of these same skills need to be used by Democrats and moderate Republicans to patiently return Kansas to wisely investing in the future, and it must start now to make sure 2020 results in more steps in the right direction.
And, knowing the many issues and priorities we have as a state, Governor Kelly rightfully vetoed the latest attempt to take Kansas back down the road of reckless and ineffective tax policy. Now it’s up to us—the people of Kansas—to make clear to legislators that we’re ready to turn the page on these policies for good and move towards a stronger, more stable future for our state.