In 2012, the state of Kansas under Gov. Sam Brownback passed a large tax cut. Despite this massive fiscal stimulus, the state’s economy actually underperformed the nation during much of the subsequent period and the cuts blew a gigantic $900 million hole in the state’s budget.
Finally the legislature cried uncle. It passed a $1.2 billion tax hike. Brownback vetoed it but the Republican dominated legislature overrode the veto.
Not only did the tax cuts fail to grow the economy, one of the state’s major metro regions, Kansas City, received a gigantic free broadband investment in the form of Google Fiber. Spanning Kansas and Missouri, this investment also failed to produce significant tech growth.
Meanwhile in Connecticut, the state twice raised taxes to address a budget deficit. Unfortunately, these tax hikes did not create long term revenue growth. What’s more, after the most recent rounds of tax hikes, the state experienced a corporate exodus highlighted by GE and Aetna. The state capital of Hartford is also flirting with bankruptcy. Gov. Dannel Malley now admits the state is tapped out on tax increases.
There are a lot of claims one can make out of these situations. I’m only going to point out that both Kansas and Connecticut are out of favor in the marketplace right now. For example, while the suburban office park may not be extinct, it’s certainly facing challenges in high tax settings like New Jersey and Connecticut. Companies like GE are in fact increasingly looking to global city centers for their highest level executives. Connecticut doesn’t have that product on offer and can’t create it. Regarding Kansas, it was likely a low tax state even before the cuts, which did not materially improve its competitive position or instrinsic attractiveness.
It’s simply very difficult to counter these macro forces. When cities were out of favor, even NYC was en route to oblivion. Trying to push on a string often only creates as many problems as solutions.