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The hollow state: Brownback’s legacy
As Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback packs his bags, assessments of his tenure largely address his income tax cuts and their disastrous results. Fair enough. But Brownback leaves another legacy that may have a longer, more problematic impact. His administration has hollowed out government, to the point that in agency after agency Kansans experience underperformance at best and crises at worst.

This “hollowing out” has stood as administration policy from Brownback’s early days, with his appointment of Robert Seidlecki as Social and Rehabilitative Services secretary. Seidlecki succeeded in driving out many well-qualified professionals, whose departures contributed directly to continuing crises within that crucial agency.

This is not just an argument between those who desire more government and those who prefer less — per health care or education or welfare. Such arguments are fundamental, and Kansas politicians have had them for more than 150 years.

Rather, Brownback and much of his administration simply do not believe that government can work. Thus, they ignore the practice of governing and administering in effective ways.

Poor governance thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Taxes should be cut because governmental spending will forever be wasteful. Bureaucrats are simply out for job security, not serving their clients. Indeed, the really talented people work in the private sector.


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