Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve in the Kansas Flint Hills

The Kansas economy under guidance of moderates

Before wishing for a return to the “good old days,” let’s make sure we understand the record of the Kansas economy.

Some in Kansas are calling for a return to the “moderate” and “reasonable” policies of past leadership, with a particular nostalgia for the tenures of governors Bill Graves and Kathleen Sebelius. But before getting what we wish for, let’s make sure we understand the history of the Kansas economy.

In September 2005 the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University published a report titled “Measuring Economic Performance for the 50 States and the District of Columbia.” The data covers the ten years between 1994 and 2003. For context, Bill Graves became governor of Kansas in 1995 and served for eight years. Following is a sample from that document. It reads:

It is clear that the Kansas economy has not performed well over the past 10 years. With the exception of job creation (middle third), Kansas has ranked among the bottom third of states across economic performance measures. Kansas has performed below the average for the Plains States Region in 5 out of the 6 measures examined as well. (Job growth in Kansas equaled the regional average at 1.4 percent annually.)

Kansas Economic Performance, from Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University, September 2005

Let’s be careful what we wish for in Kansas.


One thought on “The Kansas economy under guidance of moderates”

  1. The fiscally “moderates” who ran this state from both of the main political parties regularly practiced raising taxes every few years. This happened long enough that KS taxes became high for our region and even high nationally. Exhibit one: Kansas’ top rate on personal income taxes was 6.45%. While this was low compared to say, California’s top rate, it was so high that when Illinois raised their top rate by 67% a couple of years ago it was still 1.45% below Kansas’ top rate!

    In addition, Kansas state and local taxes are high compared to our neighboring states too. There were only a few niche markets where KS taxes were below one or possibly two of our neighboring states. Tax uncertainty was increased with the fact that there were almost no ways for the average citizen to stop property tax hikes. Many states routinely require voter approval for property tax hikes, like several of Kansas’ neighboring states.

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