Gov. Sam Brownback will be remembered as falling on his sword for his precious tax cuts, insisting they were the panacea to the state’s economic woes.
That voters gave him the benefit of the doubt to elect him governor in 2010 was no great shame. To re-elect him, however, has proven most regrettable. Democrats and Republicans alike have seen through the charade of trickle-down economics as the formula for those who have, get.
Which is ironic for a man who now will presumably serve out his political career as taking up the fight for the oppressed in his role as ambassador at-large for international religious freedom.
The incongruities only grow.
As governor, Brownback has been punitive to God’s chosen, the poor, by significantly tightening eligibility requirements and cutting welfare benefits. Today, about 15,000 Kansans receive welfare benefits, down from 38,963 when Brownback took office in 2011. During that same tenure, lifetime eligibility for welfare has been cut from five years to two.
Brownback touts the cuts as reducing the level of poverty. Sorry guv, but cutting the level of assistance does not make the poor suddenly disappear.
Those who work in social services connect the dots between a decrease in benefits to a new wave of children flooding the state’s foster care system. Destitution makes for instability.
Brownback’s cynical view of the poor is part and parcel with his refusal to expand the Medicaid program that would have allowed more than 150,000 Kansans access to health insurance.
As a final insult, Brownback is leaving legislators with a request that Medicaid recipients be required to hold down a job. If only it were that simple.
BROWNBACK’S tenure will be tainted by repeated court action to adequately fund public education. Close on its heels are the painful cuts to our state’s healthcare system, infrastructure, and prisons.
The state’s retirement and pension program, KPERS, is again teetering on the brink of insolvency. Our savings are minimal and the Department of Transportation drained to fund the general budget.
Compared to our neighbors, Kansas has not witnessed their rate of growth.
So no, it’s not a legacy to hang your hat on, but plenty to learn from.
Let’s hope we do.
— Susan Lynn