Topeka Kansas is not the kind of place that makes national headlines very often, which is something most locals are probably relatively thankful for. Being part of a national news cycle is often embarrassing for a place, and reporters from all over swarm into an area like locusts for a while, disrupting a city, particularly a smaller city like Topeka.
Having said all that, Topeka does sometimes get attention from Washington, D.C., especially when the annual budget battles pop up. The reason for this in recent years has been Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.
He ran on a platform of many positions, including a fervent pledge to apply austerity measures to the state government spending, pledging serious tax cuts for less revenue, but also far less spending to reduce the size of the government. These are consistent with elements of most Republican Party platforms, as fiscal conservatives are a major wing of the national party.
Individual states are often seen as miniature laboratories for various policies to be tried out and tested, and in the annual budget battles, many Republicans in Congress who want fewer taxes and spending at the federal level point to Kansas as a success in reducing both.
It is open to debate, though, as many economists consider Governor Brownback’s policies to have been nearly reckless. The lack of money coming in left the state struggling to meet minimum budgetary obligations in many years, including providing badly needed assistance to citizens and economic stimulus during recent downturns. Comparing the state statistics of Kansas to the rest of the nation does seem to illustrate some lasting damage to the state’s economy from ruthless austerity measures.
Other states that did not constrict spending so much are faring better, and their tax coffers are flowing faster, making reducing overall rates easier to do.