Disability, the States, and the Great Kansas Disaster

Over the past few years, Kansas has empowered a collection of radical right-wing politicians to put into practice every (Constitutionally-possible) idea that they could come up with. The idea was that they could cut taxes far enough to stimulate massive economic growth. The result has been a dramatic slashing of all mechanisms of funding the state, followed by draconian cuts across all sectors, a job collapse, and public schools in crisis.

Here’s the CEO of Pathfinder, a major Healthcare management company, on why he’s leaving Kansas [my emphasis]:

Under Brownback’s direction, Kansas implemented an unprecedented tax cut in 2012, eliminating taxes for LLCs and professional firms (for full disclosure, PHI is a C Corporation) and making the largest cuts in the highest tax brackets. He shifted taxes to create a heavier burden on property and sales taxes, which typically represent a larger burden on lower income brackets. Brownback declared that this tax cut would be a “shot of adrenaline” for the Kansas economy, but the reality is that the tax cuts have had the opposite effect. Kansas lags neighboring states in job growth. For 11 of the last 12 months, Kansas has dramatically missed revenue targets, falling deeper in debt and facing another round of degraded bond ratings.

The worst part is that the burdens for the shortfalls rest on the shoulders of those who can least afford it – children and the developmentally disabled.

Now, folks in Kansas with disabilities already know this, but I have some hope when CEOs, the priest-class of certain segments of conservative society, get involved, that change is possible.

States matter. States provide the bulk of support for people with disabilities. It’s the kind of thing the trickle-down folks and libertarians like to cut first, claiming that with lower taxes, voluntary charitable contributions will fill the gap.

They never do.

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