Kansas Governor Sam Brownback: The Wizard Of Ahs

Playing off its role in The Wizard of Oz and pretending that there is much to see and do there, Kansas bills itself as “the land of ahs.” But take it from someone who was born and raised in southeast Kansas: besides the University of Kansas Jayhawks basketball program, there aren’t many things in the state that make you go ah.

Except when it comes to following its race-to-the-bottom politics, where you can experience a lot of take-your-breath-away moments.

I’ve written a lot about what Governor Sam Brownback and a hellish host of reactionary legislators have done to Kansas, so I won’t go over all that again. I just want to catch you up on the latest.

Beginning on July 1 of this year, if you live in Kansas and want to carry a concealed weapon, you don’t need a permit. Heck, you don’t even need any training. Just pass a background check and you are good to go. Surrounded by NRA hacks, Brownback signed the bill into law on Thursday. It allows those 21 and older to pack hidden heat all over the state. And one genius, who happens to be president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, can’t wait until she can get the law changed again:

“I believe we can lower the age to 18 at some point in the future. I think after everybody sees that there are not going to be any of the dire predictions coming true, and they relax a little bit, then we can talk about that.”

Yes. And when we all relax over allowing 18-year-olds to carry guns in their jeans in high school, then we can move on to middle school kids. Then grade school. Little Tommy can pack his little pistol in his little lunch box and have a little Second Amendment fun at recess. The land of ahs, indeed.

On the budget deficit problems in Kansas, which Brownback and the extremists in his party created by passing drastic cuts in income taxes that went mostly to wealthy people, the governor has decided how he is going to fund government:

Brownback advocates consumption tax as income tax alternative in Kansas

In case you don’t know what that means, it means that the burden of funding Kansas government will fall on the working poor and middle class, who have to spend all or most of their income on goods and services. What Republicans have done and are doing in Kansas regarding taxes should be a national scandal. It should be as controversial as anything Republicans did in Indiana or Arkansas regarding their attempt to take away civil rights from non-heterosexuals. But it isn’t. I guess people are used to it by now. The rich control the Republican Party. The Republican Party controls the Kansas legislature and the governor’s mansion. And, of course, it is those without money who suffer. No big deal.

Oh, here’s another ah for you:

Kansas Bans Poor People From Spending Welfare On Cruise Ships

Yes. It is true. But there is more. In Kansas, if you get Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—and Christian Sam Brownback and his godly legislature have already made it tougher to get and keep: only 15,000 families received such benefits last year—you get your assistance via state-issued debit cards. Nothing wrong with that. A lot of states do it. But no other state does what Kansas want to do:

Kansas welfare recipients will be unable to get more than $25 per day in benefits under a new law sent this week to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk by the state legislature…Under the new rule, a three-person family receiving the maximum benefit would have to go to the ATM more than a dozen times to get the full benefit, which would be whittled away by an 85 cent fee for each withdrawal after the first one. And the local cruise liner ATM will no longer be an option.

Liz Schott, associated with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, emailed HuffPo and said:

“This provision makes it nearly impossible for a recipient who does not have a checking account to pay rent. Moreover, it actually takes money from the pockets of poor families since they will need to pay 85 cents for each additional withdrawal after the first one in a month, and often more with ATM transaction fees.”

So, Kansas Republicans cut taxes on the rich, are considering raising taxes on goods and services that working people spend most of their money on, and are penalizing the few poor people able to qualify for stingy government benefits by making them go to an ATM and pay a fee a dozen times a month. That is truly breathtaking stuff.

But there is one more political ah worth noting. The Associated Press reported on Thursday:

Two school districts plan to end the academic year early to save money, citing financial pressures caused by reduced state aid for this academic year.

Ah, shit.


  1. Troy

     /  April 4, 2015

    What a fucked up state! Unbelievable! And I’m sure it will become a model for the rest of the red states! Thank you “Teapublicans”.


    • Some right-wingers do point to Kansas as a model. You should read the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. Those cats are in another world.


  2. Kevin Beck

     /  April 4, 2015

    To top it off, I read where some Kansas schools are going to close 1-2 weeks earlier this year do to low funds and now Missouri wants to prevent food stamps for steak and sea-food. Some steaks are cheaper than hamburger and sea food is actually healthy to eat. Do we really want people eating canned spaghetti every night? Healthy food costs more, so get over it for crying out loud. What is cheaper, paying for steak and fruit or treating people for obesity? This area is already well represented in the unhealthy and uneducated areas. I cannot wait to leave here.

    Kevin Beck


    • Your point is a good one. Healthy food costs more than unhealthy food. Most processed food is cheap and fattening and I have heard more than a few people ask, “If they are so poor, why are they so fat?” Ignorance, pure ignorance. And Missouri Republicans pushing for the steak and seafood ban are ignorant assholes who think poor people are fat and lazy and, uh, black.


  3. Kevin Beck

     /  April 6, 2015

    As far as basketball goes, at least the Kansas fans did not riot like those thugs in Kentucky after they lost. 😉 Where was Hannity on that one anyways?

    Kevin Beck


  4. The voters and non-voters of Kansas deserve what they are getting. The Democrats and Independents who sat home on election day are experiencing exactly what the Republicans and hypocritical Christian Wrong (definitely not Right) elected. Also, the Koch agenda is in full force regarding education. The two extremist Libertarian brothers want an uneducated work force who will work for very little and never question their overlords, thus making the overlords more wealthy. This sounds like a return to the feudal system of the Dark Ages.

    The last elections should awaken liberals and independents to the Koch agenda, which is currently represented by the extremism of the Republican Party. Can you imagine how things would be if Paul Ryan’s budget was signed by a Republican president? Supply side economics would reign again while the rich got much richer and the middle class and poor got poorer–although the wealthy are doing very well under the current administration.

    What this country needs is another Teddy Roosevelt, a candidate who will break up the big banks and financial institutions and send those who were responsible for the 2008 financial crisis to prison. The too-big-to-fail philosophy of the Justice Department and, unfortunately, all Republicans and a majority of Democrats,when it comes to dealing with Jamie Dimon, the Bank of America, and others must change, and the only way for it to change is at the ballot box. It is unfortunate that the majority of voters are uneducated on the issues and influenced by the pretty colors, bright lights, and hate of political advertisements. After all, the turning point for Brownback’s election was that his opponent visited a strip club many years ago. This is a shame, considering what is happening now in the state.

    The people of Kansas, and now Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan, and many other states, are following along with the Koch agenda and the Republican Party. How much longer will it take the electorate to realize that they are being played for fools by the non-Christian Republican Party and the greed (which is one of the seven deadly sins) of the super wealthy? As long as Democrats and a majority of Independents sit on their asses and do not vote, it will be a while, and the current candidate of the Democratic Party will not be the Teddy Roosevelt type. From all indications, she will not work at breaking up the banks and correcting the economic inequality of this country unless forced to by members of the Democratic Party. Those of us who support the Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Sheldon Browns of the Democratic Party need to be vocal and elect representatives to the next Democratic convention who will represent the people and not only the one-percent of the population of this country. It is time for us to be heard.


    • I get so damned mad when I see how many people don’t vote, Jim. Off-year elections in the age of Obama have been remarkably bad for the country and there seems nothing can be done about it. I wish a left-leaning billionaire would put a couple of hundred million dollars into a pre-election registration and get-out-the-vote campaign, but I don’t see that happening.

      As for your point about why people vote the way they do (when they bother to vote at all), the sad truth is that political scientists tell us that in the next election Republicans are “a modest favorite.” Why? Because, despite all the talk about running a great campaign and all that stuff, it turns out that, in the words of Paul Krugman,

      “What mainly matters is income growth immediately before the election. And I mean immediately: We’re talking about something less than a year, maybe less than half a year.”

      If all that is true, if the research on past elections and how they correlate with economic growth before the election is sound (perhaps the infusion of extraordinary amounts of money may skew the results in future elections, though), then Hillary Clinton had better make sure the economy is doing well in 2016 or we’re all screwed.



  5. To your point, here’s a wakeup call to all the American Taliban governors out there, especially the one in charge of Brownbackistan:


    Of course, when these right wing nut governors see this was published by Aljazeera, they will probably think ISIS put them up to it, while ignoring the fact that Aljazeera is one of the best news organizations out there; even better than Fox Noise.



    • That article clearly makes the point that no matter what, Republicans will stick it to working class people. Consumption taxes, just like state-sanctioned gambling, suck money from those who can least afford to pay them. Yes, it is progress that right-wing governors have finally figured out that they need revenue to run their governments, but regressive taxes can’t be the only answer. Sadly, that is what it is coming to and people will get what they voted for, at least the majority of those who bothered to vote.

      And I love Aljazeera. It is one of the best news sources we have, especially when it comes to world news. Their reporters get stuff that other outlets simply don’t get.



  6. N.M. Barrows

     /  May 6, 2015

    I thought the readers of TEC would like this article about the Kansas governor:


    Maybe it’s because I’m a lifelong Kansan, but i found the comments made by Clay Barker, the Kansas GOP director, particularlly “fascinating” and they actually made me laugh. I certainly don’t see much of the “typical, liberal Kansas media” coverage that Barker refers to.


%d bloggers like this: