Sam Brownback cuts taxes of aspiring seed salespeople


Sam Brownback cuts taxes on pioneers.
  • Sam Brownback cuts taxes on pioneers.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback lapsed into truthiness as he touted his plan to re-people population-shedding areas of Kansas by offering tax breaks. Brownback said he is convinced that Kansas is losing residents to states that have no income taxes, although, as the Associated Press pointed out, it's more of a feeling than a fact.

Brownback signed the bill into law amid skepticism that tax breaks and student-loan forgiveness are going to attract settlers to rural Kansas. (What's the point of low income taxes, after all, if the career opportunities end at seed sales?) There's also new evidence that tax rates don't affect migration patterns.

The data comes from New Jersey, a state that imposed a "millionaire's tax" in 2004. Academics looked at the numbers to see if the higher tax rate on income above $500,000 drove away people who make that kind of scratch. Take it away, Wall Street Journal:

The study found that the overall population of millionaires increased during the tax period. Some millionaires moved out, of course. But they were more than offset by the creation of new millionaires.

The study dug deeper to figure out whether the millionaires who were moving out did so because of the tax. As a control group, they used New Jersey residents who earned $200,000 to $500,000 -- in other words, high-earners who weren't subject to the tax. They found that the rate of out-migration among millionaires was in line with [the] rate of out-migration of submillionaires. The tax rate, they concluded, had no measurable impact.

In other Brownback news, the governor dropped by Kansas State, his alma mater. Brownback held an informal chat with fraternity and sorority members. Channeling David Brooks, he encouraged the students to develop their emotional intelligence.
One of the big losses in society in America today is that we've got people with well-trained minds but not well-formed hearts. Really smart, very analytical, but they don't care much about others. ... People want to know you really do care.
Nice words, boss. Here's a soundtrack for the message.

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