The Koch operation held their annual planning meeting a few weeks back in Colorado to brainstorm strategies for 2018, which is a clear sign that the politics of these decisions will soon be front and center in the discussion. And you can be assured they weren’t focusing on helping supporters of proper funding levels for education and wise investments in infrastructure and other state services. They are looking for ways to not just slow the erosion of far-right support but return it to the strength of earlier years, when these special interests had their way in Topeka and other state capitals across the country. Keep in mind they are big backers of the Kansas State Chamber of Commerce who, under current management, think much like the Koch’s think and are still bought in to the idea that somehow, despite all the evidence, trickle down economics works.
My advice to those who voted for the taxes, including the motion to override Governor Brownback's veto, is to embrace what you did and the action taken to return the state to a more solid financial footing. For some legislators who promised in their campaign that they would support more dollars for education and highways, remind voters that you delivered. Not bringing up the issue will just not work, and you end up losing from both sides. Key to your message is further educating voters on the wisdom of finding the right level of support for quality public education, plus the dollars needed for highway maintenance. The negative tax impacts will always be greater when investments do not meet the state’s needs.
Because the need to find a productive level of funding seems so natural, one wonders why so many very conservative legislators can not bring themselves to ever support a tax increase. They have to know, given their agriculture and business backgrounds, that cutting too far makes no sense and leads to poor outcomes. One explanation that may answer some of this puzzle on the issue of education is that many conservative legislators are strong supporters of private education and homeschooling and would support public tax dollars going to these sources. Not properly funding public education leads to declining quality, which can encourage families to consider private education options. Maybe those ulterior motives explain their lack of support for public education. However, that approach to public budgeting only devalues the investments that the state has already made in its public school system, infrastructure, and many other areas.
And to those who very much wanted the results we got from the Legislature, now is not the time to assume the issues we’ve experienced are resolved. We need to make it clear that we very much support the courageous legislators who voted to override the veto and that we will be there with resources and help to support their reelection. It would be a huge setback for Kansas to have made this giant step forward and have it reversed as a result of the 2018 election. That could happen if common sense, moderate legislators are not successful, which will allow very narrow, backward special interests to prevail at the expense of Kansans.