To the editor:
Kansas has a budget surplus and taxes should be reduced, but not with the proposed flat tax.
In his Oct. 5, Great Bend Tribune public forum letter, Kansas Policy Institute CEO, Dave Trabert, offered readers a copy of his 2018 book, What Was Really the Matter with the Kansas Tax Plan. The last chapter of the book describes Trabert’s approach to his role as a professional propagandist. It includes statements such as: Truth is irrelevant. Restructure... perceptions to create the position you desire. Messaging must be ... relentless. His Dec. 14 letter is an example of his approach.
Trabert attempted to restructure readers’ perceptions to create the position he desires. He falsely described the public forum letters on tax cuts that he and I have exchanged over the last four months as not being a debate of right and wrong. His letters presented false depictions and deceived by omission. I pointed out how his depictions were false and what information he omitted. Read the letters.
Trabert described the letters as being a difference in focus. He claimed the focus of his desire to implement a flat tax was to reduce everyone’s tax burden. He claimed the focus my desire to retain a three-bracket income tax was to deny tax reductions for high income Kansans. Cutting rates in our three-bracket income tax always provides the largest reduction to high income earners. They receive the same reduction on their first $30,000 of income as low-income earners plus the same reduction on their next $30,000 as middle-income earners plus additional reduction on their income over $60,000. His claim is mathematically senseless. But in his approach to propaganda, truth is irrelevant.
Trabert claimed the focus of his desire to implement a flat tax was to improve the state’s economy. He presented the estimated increase in GDP from a tax reduction with a flat tax. He did not present the estimated increase in GDP from a tax reduction with our three-bracket income tax. He deceived by omission and I am pointing it out to you. That is what these letters are about.
Trabert’s messaging is relentless. In both his Oct. 21 and Dec. 14 letters, Trabert stated that the 2021 Kansas spending was $4,932 per resident. He stated this was 60% more than the 10 states with the lowest state and local tax and was 74% more than the average of the nine states without a personal income tax. This promoted the perception that Kansas spending is unimaginably inefficient, that cuts can easily be made and eliminating personal income tax is the solution. But the numbers Trabert showed in his letters were only for state expenditures and excluded local government expenditures. The 2021 Kansas total state and local spending was $10,694 per resident, which was below the national average of $11,097 and only 12% more than the average of the nine states without a personal income tax. Three of the nine states spent more than Kansas. He deceived by omission and I am pointing it out to you.
Dark money propaganda platforms such as KPI and our state legislative political party bosses function with an unspoken first loyalty: Work to provide a benefit to those of us with the most money relative to those of us with less. The flat tax is the latest version of this effort.
Please do not buy into the KPI’s propaganda. By keeping our current three bracket income tax, we can put the same value of tax reduction back into our private job market as a flat tax, but route more of the benefit to Kansans with middle and lower incomes.