Ilan's Economic Vision
Kansas is ranked the 32nd best state economy in the United States. Throughout the recession, Kansas avoided the worst of the worst. Our unemployment rate remained at half the national average. Yet, as the rest of the country picked up and prospered, Kansas was left behind, barely growing at all, and now we are left on par with the rest of the country. We can make these numbers better with some steady financial hands. Governor Brownback’s tax plan in 2016, with its massive unpaid-for tax cuts, was such a failure that his own party’s state house rolled it back. Yet, when looking at the data, Kansas seems to be in good long-term fiscal health. We have more than enough money to pay off short-term debts, meaning we won’t be burdened by perpetual and increasing debt like many other states and the federal government, and our revenue covers 98% of the budget, leaving only a small deficit. If we slightly increase taxes and devote that money to invigorating the high-tech sector in Kansas, we can shake off the languor of the past few years and let Kansas’ economy lead the future. In addition, we should increase the budget of our tax collecting division, the Kansas Department of Revenue, as every dollar spent on increasing the efficiency of our tax collecting returns 11 to 13 dollars into the budget. It might not be a sexy idea, but it’s a sensible, proven way to bring more of the money Kansas needs into the budget.
Infrastructure spending is the best way for the government to promote commerce. If we devote significant funds to improving our roads, bridges, levees and other physical infrastructure, we can make infrastructure into part of Kansas’ allure, not its downsides. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Kansas a C- on infrastructure in 2013. Their report details crumbling dams, 230 of which are at significant risk of causing loss of life or property, 3000 structurally deficient bridges, and a lack of consistent standards for the construction of levees. We must do better to fund this vital economic component. Another facet of infrastructure which requires significant funding is internet access. In the 21st century, the future of industry is in technology. If Kansas increases tax benefits for the high tech sector and works to provide subsidized high-speed wireless Internet and LTE coverage to all Kansans, Kansas can see a long-term internet investment pay off down the road.