We have interesting experiments going on in the state of Kansas and the city of Seattle. Herewith a brief update on both.
Thanks to the following Tweet, I was made aware of the fact that – as you can see – the state of Kansas, under Sam Brownback’s awesome tax cuts, recorded the third-worst jobs performance in the country over the past year. Data are easily accessible just by clicking through.
— Yael T. Abouhalkah (@YaelTAbouhalkah) June 19, 2015
It was almost three years ago – July 2012 – that Brownback touted the awesomeness of his economic plans via an op-ed:
In May, the Kansas Legislature passed and I signed the largest tax cut in state history, eliminating state income taxes on small businesses and reducing the tax burden on hardworking Kansans. […]
Our new pro-growth tax policy will be like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy. It will pave the way to the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs, bring tens of thousands of people to Kansas, and help make our state the best place in America to start and grow a small business. It will leave more than a billion dollars in the hands of Kansans. An expanding economy and growing population will directly benefit our schools and local governments.
In short, it did none of the above. In fact, faced with the dire consequences of Brownback’s Laffer-inspired, misbegotten plans, Kansas schools had to implement early closures:
“It’s crazy times,” Sanders said. “The ideology in this tax experiment has gone too far. It’s almost as if they’re hell-bent on proving their point, no matter the damage it causes.”
Indeed. The beatings will continue until morale improves.
Faced with a fiscal crisis, Brownback has had no choice but to reverse course. Sadly, in doing so, he is placing much of the burden on the ordinary Kansans by raising sales taxes.
Here’s the growth of jobs in Kansas for the last 3 1/2 years, with the months of Brownback’s statement and the most recent reading highlighted.
That’s an annual growth rate of about 1.15%, which compares poorly to the nation as a whole, which has advanced by about 1.91% annualized over the same period. Not terribly impressive.
And yet, amazingly, supply-side trickle down is somehow still a thing. Where is John Oliver when you need him?
Moving on from Kansas to the Emerald City and a different sort of experiment. Let’s see what the data have to say there about their gradually stepped-up minimum wage. Keep in mind that the increase was voted into law over one year ago, and the first bump was enacted a few months ago. (It’s important to note the timing of the legislation’s approval for the following reason: Market participants (which include restaurateurs) act on information immediately, i.e. as soon as it becomes available. In this case, information about an impending rise in wages was known over one year ago.)
So, how’s it going?
Well, I’ve been continuing the work started by Evan Soltas at his blog in March. Taking his initial six data points, and updating weekly, the Seattle restaurant scene looks like this:
Seems to my eyes that the restaurant business in Seattle has continued to grow fairly briskly despite dire forecasts – and some outright lies – spread throughout the conservative media. As I was told by a contact in the most excellent King County Office of Economic and Financial Analysis, it will likely be rent before wages that slows things down in Seattle.
So, in sum, tax cuts have not led to the promised prosperity in Kansas, and a higher minimum wage has not led to the demise of the restaurant business in Seattle. I don’t expect these facts to make any difference whatsoever in conservatives’ narrative – I wasn’t born yesterday – but they do need to be documented for the record time and again.