"People are finally realizing the Emperor has no clothes!" Wagnon wrote in a statement to the media referring to The Wichita Eagle's recent story that documented the governor's use of erroneous numbers in talking about the state budget.
"Do you remember that fairy tale about the Emperor who wore a suit of clothes made from invisible cloth? A child pointed out that the Emperor’s new clothes didn’t exist and he was, in fact, naked. Now we have the naked truth about some of the Brownback administration’s claims."
Here's what Wagnon wrote:
Thanks to the excellent reporting of Dion Lefler and the Wichita Eagle, the public can now see that the fairy tale of accomplishments and promises Governor Brownback has spun the last two years is full of holes and untruths.
The Eagle dug into Brownback’s claim that state spending has dropped nearly $2 billion since 2010 – and found that the numbers just didn’t add up. A chart that Brownback has used in presentations around the state wrongly said that state spending had peaked at $16 billion under Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson.
The truth: state spending under Parkinson was only $14.04 billion. State spending did rise, but not under Governor Parkinson. State spending under Governor Brownback is now higher than the day Gov. Parkinson left office.
The distortions don’t end there though. The Eagle also debunked erroneous figures on state education spending, reading proficiency statistics, and potential savings of the proposed Turnpike merger.
For eight years I served as Secretary of Revenue under Governor’s Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson. Those eight years were bookended by two recessions, one caused by 9-11 and the other when the housing bubble burst and the stock market crashed late in 2008.
Governor Brownback likes to refer to that time period as “the lost decade” when in fact that characterization is another untruth. In those middle years Kansas saw growth in jobs and its revenues. The numbers of state employees steadily decreased while state government maintained quality services for Kansans.
The State of the State speech last month painted a “prairie fairy tale” of increased prosperity, smaller government, lower taxes and no cuts to public education. The assumptions on which those projections were based are as suspect as the “fuzzy math” being used by the Brownback administration to tout its successes and to justify its programs.
So, whose numbers can we trust?
The Kansas Legislative Research department has been giving out unbiased information since it was created in the 1930’s. Their latest budget projection chart, shows the tax plan currently being considered by the legislature will create a $700+ million hole in the budget.
In other words, without some further cuts to spending or increased revenues, the budget will be unbalanced by more than $700 million. Since our constitution requires a balanced budget, the legislature will be forced to cut programs. Education constitutes more than 65% of the budget, so cuts to schools are inevitable.
Citizens have neither the time nor the information to validate every claim by this Brownback administration. Thank heavens for astute reporters and newspapers that are willing to investigate the veracity of our public officials and show the people the naked truth!