Fresh off a re-election bid that he nearly lost because of the disastrous impact of his massive income tax cuts, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback now says he regrets his triumphant prediction that the tax cuts would be a "shot of adrenaline" to the state's economy.
“I probably would have chosen words better at different times, because you go through a campaign where you’ve got to eat the words you inartfully said,” Brownback told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Besides his "shot of adrenaline" sound bite, Brownback also regrets calling the tax cuts an "experiment."
“The objective was the same — to get growth happening where we hadn’t had growth in 35 years as a state — and we’d gone from six congressional districts headed down to four headed to three if we don’t change these trajectories,” he said.
Brownback's post-campaign contrition comes as dire new figures will force the governor to make some painful budgetary choices. In order to close a projected $280 million revenue shortfall by a June deadline, Brownback has reduced state contributions to Kansas' pension fund -- already one of the worst-funded in the nation -- and cut highway funding. In an ironic twist, the vociferously anti-health reform governor is also relying on Obamacare to help fill the state's budget gap; Brownback is transferring $55 million in revenue from a Medicaid drug rebate program expanded in the Affordable Care Act into the state's general fund.
But those measures won't suffice to make up Kansas' budget shortfall, and with education and health services already cut virtually to the bone, Brownback may have no choice but to rethink his tax cuts.
"Everything is on the table, including the tax policy," Shawn Sullivan, the governor's budget director, told the New York Times earlier this month.
That marks a sharp change in tone from the campaign season. As he sought to fend off a strong challenge from Democrat Paul Davis this year, Brownback vowed that his tax cuts would spur such strong growth that the state would avoid future budget shortfalls. It was always a fantastical notion, and the real-life consequences of his supply-side experiment are forcing Brownback to admit as much.