Well, I’ll give the Kansas Republican Party this – when they go for broke? They TRULY go for broke!
Earlier today, the culmination of a twenty year march to insanity reached its peak, as the Kansas House passed a tax bill that literally bankrupts the state, screws the poor and working families, and ensures the wealthiest among us will become even wealthier. It is a bill its own sponsors admit will leave the state in a $2 billion deficit hole a mere four years from now, in addition to putting Kansas $270 million plus in the red for next year. And we haven’t even balanced THIS year’s budget yet!!! Because, uuh, guys and gals in the statehouse? You are aware that Kansas has a balanced budget amendment, right? You HAVE to balance the budget each year? You are aware of that, right?
This bill is … well, I’ve stated before my staunch opposition to abortion, but if EVER something deserved to be aborted, this bill is it. While I applaud cutting the personal income tax rates (just keep reading – if you have even an ounce of common sense to you, and you live in the KC Metro area, you are going to nod your head in total and complete agreement at today’s post), here’s the other “goodies” in this ludacris bill:
* cuts the sales tax by 6/10ths of a cent, effective July 1. As you will see below, this is an absolutely laugh-out-loud stupid decision, and every conservative and thinking liberal (which, granted, is a shrinking minority) knows why this is an absolutely laugh-out-loud stupid decision.
* eliminates the tax credit for daycare costs. I swear, are these IDIOTS in the statehouse TRYING to destroy economic growth? True story – my sister in law literally devotes her entire paycheck to simply paying daycare costs for my nephew and my nieces. And will be for at least one more year. Thankfully, my brother has a solid job, and they can manage to survive (literally) losing half the household income to daycare.
So what of the people who DON’T have a second income to help them? Yes, some people have put themselves in that position due to irresponsibility … but even so, are the Republicans this callous, this uncaring, about a generation of children they insist must be born no matter what the preference of the mother is when she finds out she’s pregnant?
* it eliminates all income taxes on limited liability corporations and sole proprietorships. If you keep reading, you will see that I support a limited version of this in “Stevo’s Utopia” … but ask yourself this: if you’re a small business owner in the state of Kansas, how long is it going to take you to RUN – not walk, RUN – to your local courthouse and refile your company as a LLC or a sole proprietorship, 2/1000ths of a second? 3/1000ths? These fools have no idea what they’ve done.
* here’s a genius idea: let’s eliminate allowing the poor to deduct their grocery sales taxes on their state income tax. That’s brilliant. It’s outrageous enough Kansas charges grocery sales at the full sales tax rate (Missouri does not – it charges at about 25%, give or take a percent or two, of the full sales tax rate), but to eliminate the ability to recoup that? Could literally bankrupt thousands of families come next April.
And why, you ask, were these tax credits revoked? Because oh yes, the top marginal tax rates – plural! – were CUT in HALF! Again, I personally abhor the income tax – I favor a national sales and VAT tax, because … well, we’ll get to why in a few pages, and it’s something, again, that EVERY fiscal conservative and MOST thinking liberals already know.
Having said that as my opening rant, what can be done about it? What do sane, rational citizens do when their government has come off the rails? When a group of loony toons run the state? There’s only one solution, and I proposed it sixteen years ago, in a creative writing class in college.
As one of our assignments, we were tasked with drafting a hare-brained idea that people might be interested in seeing occur. Emphasis on "creative", obviously.
I chose to write about an idea I'd had floating around in my head since high school. An idea that on the surface, seems kooky ... yet made sense, given the political environment of the day.
Today, I am unveiling that idea to the masses, albeit with a slight modification to my original proposal.
I base this idea on something that happened in 1861. Well actually, back up about thirty years earlier, to the mid 1830s. Then Vice President John C. Calhoun (D-SC), angry at the high tariffs a Northern dominated Congress was passing to restrict the cotton trade, proposed what came to be known as the “Theory of Nullification”. Basically, what Calhoun argued was that when a Congress passes punitive measures against a state or a region of states, and said Congress refuses to rescind the legislation? Then the affected states had the right to secede and form a new nation / state / whatever. This theory would become the justification eleven states would use in 1860 and 1861 to secede from the Union.
OK, back to 1861. The Confederacy had just captured Fort Sumter, Presidents Lincoln and Davis were asking every able bodied man to sign up for military service, the nation was being dragged into the hell that is a civil war. And in mid-May, the state of Virginia voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederate cause. The decision itself wasn't surprising -- a huge chunk of the state was plantation based farming, and President Davis had dangled the carrot of moving the capital to Richmond if the state would join their cause.
What was surprising ... was that a chunk of the state, 33 northwestern counties in all, refused to recognize the secession ordinance, and instead, turning the theory on its designers, drafted their own act of secession, to secede from the state of Virginia and form a new state. This act was actually recognized by Congress in 1863, and the state of West Virginia was born.
Ladies and gentlemen, peoples and peepettes, the fifteenth amendment makes secession from the Union illegal. But based upon actual precedent, secession from a state, to form a new state? IS legal. And it’s high damned time the counties of Johnson, Wyandotte, Douglas, Leavenworth, and (if it wants in) Miami do exactly that – tell the quack Republican wingnuts in Topeka “thanks, but no thanks” to the idiocracy they are creating, and combine our counties together …
To form the new state of East Kansas.
I first proposed this idea, like I said, sixteen years ago, when the lunacy in Topeka was just beginning. People tend to forget, but twenty short years ago? Kansas was the model of moderation. We had two moderate Senators in Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum. A moderate (Jan Meyers) represented JoCo and WyCo in Congress. A Democrat (Dan Glickman) represented Wichita in Congress. We had a Democrat governor (the incompetent Joan Finney), who was replaced by one of the best governors the state ever had (the moderate Republican Bill Graves). In fact, when it actually appeared the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v Wade in the summer of 1992? The state legislature passed (and Governor Finney signed) a law that ensured abortion would remain legal in Kansas in the event the Supreme Court kicked the legalization of abortion back to the state level. (Something they should do anyways, Roe v Wade is the second worse Supreme Court decision ever, behind only Dred Scott. And I was saying that even when I held pro-choice views a decade ago.)
So what changed? Well, a group of radical conservatives came up with a genius idea in hindsight, if not at the time – pack the ballot with conservative candidates to promote their socially conservative, economically irresponsible agenda. How, you ask, were they so successful, so soon? Because they found a way to play the system against itself – only true believers tend to vote in primaries, especially in non-Presidential election years. Bammo, within four years, the moderates were a minority, and people such as Phill Kline, Todd Tiahrt, Kris Kobach, Kay O’Connor, and other far-right believers were the leaders of the state for all intents and purposes.
It was that sudden, nearly overnight shift, turning my home state from a model of common sense into a state that refused to teach evolution*, that led me to conclude that Vice President Calhoun’s theory made sense, and it was time to apply it. If the vast majority of Kansas truly wants a very limited government with no social safety net, a government that refuses to regulate business but regulates a woman’s vagina, a government that embraces the worst mankind has to offer, a government that enriches the rich at the expense of the poor? Let ‘em have it. We’ll take our money (that single-handedly keeps the state afloat) and go form our own more perfect union -- East Kansas.
(*: I personally do not buy evolution as a credible scientific theory for how the universe began … but when something is the universally accepted scientific theory of the day, you are damaging your kid’s futures by not at least teaching said universally accepted scientific theory of the day. Even a monkey knows that.)
That was the idea sixteen years ago. But like the President on his views on gay marriage, my idea has evolved. I never dreamed the government in Jeff City could possibly approach the lunacy that is Topeka, but by God, this session? They’ve not only approached it, they’ve arguably topped it, right down to some quack senator from the boothills deciding that he – not parents, not students, not local school districts – he and he alone knows what single biggest problem facing schools state-wide is, and it’s (gasp) gay-lesbian student organization.
This (amongst other frightening ideas spewing forth in Jeff City on a daily basis) is why I have adapted my idea of East Kansas … to include the counties of Jackson, Platte, and Clay on the Missouri side.
Let’s look at the positives of an eight county state of East Kansas …
1. No more state line. Do you realize that with this one stroke, by simply telling the extremists in the two state capitals “you all want a theocracy*? Fine, have one, we’re out of here”, that we solve the metropolitan area’s single biggest problem? No longer would Kansas and Missouri be giving away the treasury to lure a business across the state line (like Kansas did with Cerner and AMC, and Missouri did with the EPA). The only state line in the metropolitan area that would exist, is the road bearing that name.
(*: idiocracy, theocracy, they’re both the same thing. Even God realized a theocracy doesn’t work, hence giving the Jews King Saul, and eventually King David and King Solomon. Hey, when God freely admits something is a failure, who am I to question His wisdom and insight?)
2. No more excuses for the lack of a legitimate mass transit system. Instead of three bus systems? Consolidate into one, because we’re one big happy state now. Instead of bitching over bi-state funding for light rail? Just fund the damned system already. (Don’t worry, I have a plan for how to do this.)
Five simple lines – from Gardner to Union Station along I-35; from Belton to Union Station via the Watkins; from Union Station to the airport via the Broadway extension and I-29; from Union Station to Liberty via I-35; and from the Legends, through Union Station, out to Blue Springs via I-70. (Why funnel everything through Union Station? Because it’s my idea, that’s why. Plus, I love Union Station in DC. There’s nothing wrong with stealing an idea that works.)
3. Another positive – at a time when most states and municipalities are wrestling with ways to finance stadium and arena renovations and rebuilds? We’ve already done it. Stick the state with the bill they’re already on the hook for. For what the new state of East Kansas would be on the hook for (which is the Truman Sports Complex and the Sprint Centre / Power and Light, and possibly Livestrong Park, not sure how the financials on that were arrived at, but I believe Kansas is responsible for it, not WyCo), let’s steal the one good idea the state of Kansas has legislated into law the last five, six years, and let’s take the revenue from the state-owned Hollywood Casino (now owned by East Kansas!), and dedicate every cent raised from the state’s share of profits to paying off the stadium / arena bonds ASAFP.
However, one state-run casino isn’t going to be enough. We’re going to need a second one (and in a couple more pages, when I write into our founding document THE loophole of the century, you’ll understand why we need more than one … but not more than two).
Like the Hollywood Casino, the new casino should be placed as far away from the Missouri River as possible, because East Kansas isn’t looking to drive business away (when we get to my tax code, you’ll see this is very, very true).
Ideally, you put this second casino in an economically viable part of the state that is currently struggling, to revitalize the local economy in that area. (Remember, our state is going to be about the size of New Jersey, although more circular shaped than rectangular. It won’t be hard to attract people from all over the state to a new destination spot at least once.) It should be in an easily accessible part of the state as well – ideally close to the freeway, and if placed in the metro area, ideally close to the new legitimate mass transit and light rail routes we’re implementing.
Ladies and gentlemen, is there any more perfect location to put this casino than on the old Bannister Mall property? I say no. (And at the risk of stereo-typing the citizens of East Kansas, who tends to frequent casinos, the well-off in life … or those of a slightly lower class? As someone who jogs past the roo-eens of Bannister Mall nearly every evening, I can assure you, I do not live in a high-income area of town. And as someone who is an addicted gambler, and is not “well off” in life, uum, well, put it in a place where you’ll attract a crowd. And that ain’t Leawood, EK.)
4. Put the capital in what used to be KCK, now renamed East Kansas City. Put it in the heart of downtown. Why? Because since the Legends and the Speedway revitalized the suburbs of East Kansas City, and the Sprint Centre and P&L revitalized downtown Kansas City, and the proposed casino where Bannister Mall used to sit will revitalize the most economically depressed part of the major metropolitan area of our new state, let’s revitalize the second most depressed area, East Kansas City from 635 to the old state line.
(Or, if you’re being really creative? Put the new capital where Indian Springs sits today, and then you’ll really revitalize an economically depressed part of the capital city of our new state.)
5. The single biggest issue that will be facing East Kansas (other than the possibility that the Missouri and Kansas National Guard masses at our borders, ready to do to us what Hitler did to Poland) is public education. Let’s face it – Johnson County has some of the best school districts in the nation. Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley, Olathe, DeSoto, all top notch. And KCK isn’t that bad off. The key is to somehow transfer that wealth of knowledge (and more importantly, parents that give a damn) to what remains of the KCMO district.
However, even in challenge, we have opportunity … because all the money currently being drained from the JoCo (and WyCo) schools and shipped west to educate our former statemates in rural Kansas? Now stays local, and by local, that means some of it gets shipped to the district formerly known as KCMO, now known as KCEK. There will be more money to spend on education simply because we won’t be dropping $92,000 a kid on a classroom of five in Bumfuck, Kansas or Backwater, Missouri. Instead, we’ll be dropping $10,000 a kid on a classroom of 25. Plus, since the whole state will virtually be one big metropolitan area (again, think New Jersey for a comparison, except without the swamps and union thugs), we won’t have to deal with funding rural districts. What will the smallest district in East Kansas be, Lansing? Miami? Gardner? All large enough that legitimate class sizes (to ensure maximization of education spending) is achieved.
Yes we can! (Maintain the quality of the JoCo schools, while having said quality spread to the surrounding districts).
6. Taxation: (deep breath) here we go. It’s my dream state, so it’s my dream tax system. First, there will be no state income tax in East Kansas. The income tax is a regressive tax that minimizes tax revenue, and I want no party of a regressive system that limits your revenue intake. Secondly, buh-bye KCEK earnings tax. Under my tax system we’re going to test out (and that I wish to God the nation would test drive), we have no need for an earnings tax.
Instead, we’re going to have a three-tiered tax system at the state level. First, we will set a corporate tax rate of 2.5%, with only one exemption: if your business profit is less than $50,000 for a particular year, AND no employee of your company draws a cash compensation of over $99.999.99 for that particular year, then you will pay a 0.0% corporate tax rate Unless that loophole applies? Your company is paying 2.5% on its income to the state, no exemptions, no exceptions, no deductions. This ensures three things:
* our corporate tax rate will be half that of Kansas (as of today, and 1/3 of Kansas’ rate prior to today), and slightly below Missouri’s level (which I believe is 3.5%). This will encourage businesses currently located in places like Topeka, Harrisonville, St. Joseph, and other “border towns” to consider moving inside our state’s borders.
* it will ensure every business pays its fair share. Do you realize (and I know this is at the federal level but still), do you realize that GE paid exactly $0.00 in corporate taxes the last three years? No, seriously, GE, one of the ten largest corporations in the world, hasn’t paid a cent in federal taxes since 2008. How? Loopholes*! If you don’t have any, every business not only pays its fair share, it can plan accordingly for what it owes. And
* if a business has a down year, and it’s a legitimate down year, not a “lowering the income on the earnings report because it all got paid out as a bonus to the owner” down year, then you won’t be punished further by having to come up with money to pay taxes on the little you did earn.
(*: the mother load of revenue raising, the mother load of all loopholes, is coming up in a few more paragraphs. And yes, even sixteen years ago when I first proposed this idea, I knew this loophole existed. Stay tuned – pretty much every loyal reader of this site is going to LOVE this loophole …)
The second tier of our revolutionary tax system will be a 4% state sales tax on all items, save for groceries and certain other necessity-of-life items. These items will not be taxed.
(If you read nothing else I ever type, read the next two paragraphs, not only because it’s 100% factually true (as you can confirm at various state’s tax websites), but the only states in the country currently experiencing economic growth? Are the ones that implement my proposal in the paragraph above.)
Here’s the dirty little secret that brain dead liberals (of which there are too many) refuse to admit, but conservatives (other than those currently running the two states we are seeking to secede from) are absolutely right about – not only do revenues to the treasury increase when you lower or eliminate income taxes (because people are less likely to look for loopholes to get out of paying them) … states with a sales tax system instead of an income tax system raise more revenues as well. Why? Because with income, you’re capped. You can’t take more than a certain percentage of what a person owns. With a sales tax? You’re not capped – the limit is only in what people spend, not earn.
People can live “beyond their means”. It’s called “credit”. You can spend more in a year than you earn. In fact, I would venture to guess that virtually every person that will live within the borders of East Kansas will spend more than they earn in a year. A small, reasonable sales tax on all non-essential-to-life items will raise a lot more money than the regressive income tax. (And the beauty of it is, citizens actually believe they pay less, since they keep more of what they earn every couple weeks).
The third tier? Here’s the revolutionary part. Somehow, if East Kansas is to become the modern utopia I envision it to be, what with legitimate mass transit, light rail, vastly improved public education that is fully funded, and an economic environment that encourages investment via low taxation … well, you still gotta fund that utopia. And unlike President Obama, I don’t believe in robbing our kids and our grandkids to pay for today’s visions.
Which is why the third tier is going to be a 4% VAT tax on all individual items sold inside the state for $29.96 or above. What is a VAT tax, you ask? Well, it’s only been proposed in this country once to date, in President Clinton’s first budget, but it’s a damned solid revenue raiser currently used in Europe and most of Asia (and it’s coming at the federal level, no matter who wins in 2012, it’ll be law by 2015, we’re that broke as a nation.) VAT stands for “value added tax”. Basically, it’s a tack-on extra sales tax on higher priced items. Setting the bar at essentially $30 ensures food, diapers, non-luxurious clothing / bedding / bath needs, and (most importantly!) “middle class booze” won’t likely have a VAT tax on it, so it won’t punish you for simply living.
Low corporate tax rate. No state income tax. Very reasonable state income tax rate. No more earnings tax. And a VAT tax on moderate to higher end items to finance the infrastructure improvements this region of the country desperately needs.
(Oh, and property taxes? Local municipalities are free to set mill levies as they see fit. The state will not collect one cent in taxes on your property.)
7. The legal differences. Let’s face it, if we’re reconciling counties from two states into one, there’s gonna be some laws that have to be dealt with. So let’s deal with them.
First, we’re adapting the liquor laws of Missouri. If a grocery store wants to sell legitimate beer and booze, let them. Also, 24/7 liquor sales. East Kansas will never be confused with an idiocracy or a theocracy – if people want to drink? Let them.
Second, we’re adopting the local taxation laws of Kansas. Each municipality is free to set its own tax rate to fund whatever project is before them without requiring a city-wide vote. You elect a city council for a reason. If you don’t like the rate they set? Vote them out.
Third, we’re going to file a legal challenge to the illegality of marijuana at a federal level. We have long passed the point as a nation to where we need to legalize and tax the hell out of weed, just like we do cigarettes. In the interim, we’re legalizing medical marijuana, and Dr. Nick Riviera will be manufacturing medicinal needs for anyone who needs their wacky tobaccy.
Fourth, we’re writing into our state constitution legalized paramutual AND sports wagering. Hang on, let me celebrate this for a second … OOH, SWEET JESUS, THE MOTHER OF ALL LOOPHOLES!!! Existing states that did not have legalized sports wagering when the 1973 act was passed by Congress to clamp down on illegal gambling, cannot go back and amend their constitutions to allow paramutual and sports wagering. (Delaware tried two years ago, and got their ass handed to them in court).
But as a new state? With a new constitution? Oh hell to the yes, we can legalize that b*tch! And we’re adding an addendum to the legalization, that said wagering can only occur at the two state-owned casinos, the one at the Legends and the one we’ll be building at the former Bannister Mall site (ensuring the state receives the proceeds, and not an out-of-state proprieter).
Other state laws that will occur:
* In order to vote in East Kansas? You must have a valid state ID. Yes, I am a moderate to liberal in life … but come on. You can’t cash a check without an ID. How on earth are you allowed to vote without one?
* However, no Arizona-style illegal immigration laws will be on the books. Especially since Kris Kobach will no longer be involved in state administration. (I presume that well-intentioned yet mentally challenged individual will opt to remain in his utopian idiocracy Kansas is now free to implement.) The residents of East Kansas, regardless of their immigration status, should feel free to walk down the street without being immgrationally-profiled.
* Our state constitution will not mention one word about gay marriage, abortion rights, or recognition of domestic partnerships. The legislators elected by the citizens of East Kansas will determine the limits placed on each grouping. (And since I have faith in the counties I’m recruiting for this state, I believe we will legalize gay marriage, will allow abortion within certain parameters, and will allow couples who cohabitate to be on each other’s benefit plans. Again, this is my utopia, deal with it.)
* Considering that the Sports Complex has been renovated recently, the Sprint Centre isn’t even ten years old, and the Speedway is viable for fifty plus years, the state Constitution will contain a clause that no public financing for any sporting venue can be allowed absent a two-thirds majority vote in the state legislature, or absent a two-thirds majority vote by the state’s citizens via a petition drive that puts the issue on the ballot. Thirty years ago, when costs were lower, public financing of public facilities made sense. Now, when stadiums and arenas are “outdated” not even 18 years after they open (as St. Louis is finding out)? Hell no, there’s no need for public financing, unless a super-majority of either the Legislature or the public approves said public financing.
* Also, all changes to the founding tax laws described above will require a 2/3rds super majority. Yes, I’m pretty much copying the founding document of the Confederate States of America word for word at this point. What can I say, they got a lot of things right that Benny Franklin and Tommy Jefferson screwed up.
Speaking of the Legislature …
* We’re borrowing liberally from Nebraska, and having only one Chamber. There will be 27 legislative districts, drawn legitimately – no gerrymandering to begin with at least. There’s no need for a House of Representatives – it’s the quacks in the state Houses now that we’re forming this state to get away from. Also
* the Governor of East Kansas will have a line-item veto power, and it will be written into the state Constitution. I’m not a fan of pork spending; the line-item veto is the surest way to prevent it. Also, should the wingnuts we’re forming this state to get away from ever find a way to attain power? The line-item veto ensures that tacking on a bill defunding Planned Parenthood as a line item to a bridge building bill can be removed with no damage to the general welfare of the public done.
* the State Supreme Court will consist of seven judges. They will be appointed using the so-called “Kansas System”, where a panel of lawyers and judges will submit three candidates to the Governor, and he or she will choose one to sit on the bench. Why fix what isn’t broken.
Other “potent potables” …
* Our governor will serve one six-year term, and cannot face recall or impeachment proceedings unless he or she is convicted in a court of law of violating felonious local, state, or federal law. I’m not a fan of people who cheat on their significant other – they’re the biggest cowards walking the planet. But in East Kansas, we will not tolerate Ken Starr witchhunts against the cowards, or whiny pathetic union thugs attempting to undo the will of the people because their feelings are hurt (ala Scott Walker in Wisconsin.)
* I assume we will receive the four seats in the House of Representatives our new state currently holds control of, and two (new) seats in the Senate, which puts our Electoral College number at 6, and pushes the Electoral College delegate count to 540. (Or, to ensure there can never be a tie again, we could get five House seats and push the count to 541, since that would create a new seat not removed from Missouri and Kansas. See, history!)
* The state flag will be as simple as it gets: the right half will be royal blue, the left half will be pitch black. Two rectangles. Kansas and Missouri, merged together.
* Because discrimination of any form will not be tolerated, I will not write into our state’s founding document a clause banning “Sleazy” Manny Cleaver from ever being allowed to hold public office again. But damn, its tempting to do so.
* Religious institutions will retain their tax-exempt 501(c)3 status … but only as long as they remain 100% neutral on all political issues of the day. If a minister feels the need to tell his congregation how to vote? That’s cool. But that minister is going to be paying 2.5% of his church’s income to the state for the right to do so.
* The same rule will apply to the media. I don’t care that FOX News is conservative, and MSNBC is liberal. I actually prefer a choice. But don’t claim to be “fair and balanced” when you are anything but. 2.5%. Next!
8. KCI stays as it is. As dumb as the ideas proposed and/or passed in Jeff City and Topeka over the last few months have been, there hasn’t been anything as stupid as the proposal to build a new airport to service the capital metropolitan area of East Kansas.
I know there are still more kinks to be worked out, but hey – to get Missouri into the Union? It required a national compromise. To get Kansas into the Union? It took two state constitutions, an eastward invasion by John Brown, a westward invasion by Paul Quantrill, a civil war, and a ridiculous amount of human tragedy and loss.
To get East Kansas into the Union? Would only require a referendum on eight counties’ ballots come November. And an affirmative vote in Washington come the lame duck cession in December. We can do this. We can be East Kansas.
Because God knows it beats the hell out of the, uuh, hellish states we’re currently living in …