Brownback draws fire from Republicans
Bob Brookens of Marion and Bill Kassebaum of Burdick are fellow Republicans, attorneys, and former Kansas legislators. Their grandfathers, E.C. Brookens and Alf Landon, went to college together.
They also have in common deep concerns about what they believe are disastrous effects of Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax reform plans and the direction of the state under his leadership.
“It is harmful to Kansas, both urban and rural,” Brookens said. “I have no problem with cutting spending, I have no problem with being careful, I have no problem with stimulating the economy. This tax bill is a smoke screen for all of those,” Brookens said.
“I don’t agree with hardly any of it,” Kassebaum said. “I don’t think it’s doing anything healthy for the state, especially rural Kansas.”
When enacted in 2012, Brownback touted the tax cuts as a model for economic growth for other states. A March 2014 report by the Center on Budget and Public Priorities contradicts Brownback’s claim.
CBPP likened the eight percent reduction in state revenues to the impact of a mild recession, reporting that benefits went primarily to high-income households while taxes went up for some low-income households. The number of new business startups slowed in 2013, and job growth in Kansas lagged behind the national average, they said.
Brookens was the 70th District representative when the tax bill was passed, and he said Brownback didn’t listen to his concerns.
“I was in the governor’s office speaking to the governor and his staff about the things I thought made it so faulty that it was unworkable, none of which were changed, and I was told that they would not change,” Brookens said. “The people of this district understood fully this was phoney baloney. Business people downtown that would benefit thought this was phoney baloney. In Hillsboro, Marion, Peabody, Tampa, and Goessel, they understood this bill was nuts.”
Kassebaum, who served one term in the legislature in 2003 and 2004, said the impact of reduced funding for education, particularly in rural areas, sparked his concern.
“School districts in low-value property districts will have a very hard time funding their schools. A lot of rual Kansas is in low-value areas,” Kassebaum said.
Kassebaum’s concerns about the direction of the party under Brownback ran so deep that he’s working as campaign treasurer for Brownback’s Democratic challenger in the governor’s race, Paul Davis.
“I’m still a Republican, a Republican precinct committee person, I believe in many of tenants of the Republican party I grew up with,” Kassebaum said. “The party on the whole was on the wrong track.”
Kassebaum said his choice to support a Democrat over Brownback was reflected by more than 100 moderate Republicans who publically endorsed Davis July 15.
“It shows the concern many in the Republican Party have for the direction the state is taking under Brownback,” he said.
Brookens greatest concern is untaxed money that he said goes to out-of-state owners of pasture land and mineral rights.
“They suck the money out of here, they don’t pay income tax, they pay very little property tax. The people with oil, nobody with oil on their land pays income tax on it. Just exactly what spur to the economy is that? It’s insane,” Brookens said.
Brookens wants concerned Republicans to voice their displeasure by voting Tuesday for Brownback’s challenger in the Republican primary, Jennifer Winn of Wichita.
“I have no idea of what his opponent will be like, but I do advocate voting for her,” Brookens said. “If Gov. Brownback wins the nomination, he should know there are some very angry Republicans out there.”