I knew in the back of my mind the day might come after Sam Brownback announced his run for Governor. I didn't know the specifics of why or how, but I did know it might come to this. I had hoped to put it off until my teen had graduated from high school however unwise or expensive it may be. The finances of the county, city and school district I live in are now entirely enmeshed in a fight for the last tax dollar I am willing to part with over the rush to create a libertarian utopia. Sam’s folly to untax the wealthy and corporations have shifted the entire burden of managing the state's finances squarely on the backs of the middle and lower class populations of Kansas. Now that the state is unable to spread the wealth of northeastern Kansas to the more rural portions of Kansas, it will be up to the individual counties, cities and school districts to raise their own funds in any manner they can.
Sam told us he wanted Kansas to be more like Texas, where property taxes, fees and barrels of oil are the tax base and thus the mainstay of revenue for counties, cities and school districts. He has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams with the compliant teabaggers his wealthy benefactors gave him in 2012. In Texas, a property owner pays property taxes to each level of government individually and in ever increasing amounts. Fees for services are high, but regulation is lax, allowing companies, in some cases such as the town of West, to build hazardous chemical plants adjacent to nursing homes, schools, and even homes. Can Sam Brownback's vision of "North Texas" be far behind his tax plan? Texas k-12 schools were consistently behind those of Kansas in college preparatory proficiency rates according to The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Kansas had a higher percentage of high school completion rates as well using the latest data from NCHEMS. I foresee the days of getting a better education in Kansas coming to a close well before my teen earns her high school diploma, and for her sake the day I didn't want to happen has come.
The prospect of higher taxes on my already highly taxed property and the knowledge that my state tax write-off for mortgage interest helped to push me towards the decision I had hoped I wouldn't have to make. The high probability of falling into an upside down mortgage when my property is devalued beyond what I owe because of the high tax rates, inadequate fire and police protections accompanied by poor schools, bad infrastructure and lack of good jobs in the area contributed to my decision as well.
I will not empathize with the citizens who voted for the schemes of Arthur Laffer, either by exercising their rights or in absentia by allowing others to decide for them. I will miss my friends and I will reluctantly visit because of family still here. I will visit the graves of my wife, my relatives and friends who have gone before me to pay the respect I owe them. However, I cannot respect Kansas any longer. It is because of the people of this state’s ignorance and intolerance that I am leaving. Low information or no information voters have the upper hand here, and they gave me the shove I needed to make my decision.
I have researched the east coast, the west coast, the Pacific Northwest, the Northeast US and yes, even Texas. I researched housing, schools, demographics, population growth predictions, environmental sustainability, climate change and also looked at local property taxes. It took me months of sifting through the various ideas, the good and bad of every place I'd been or wanted to be at this stage of my life. A few weeks ago, I came to the conclusion of the research phase of my plan. I found the state where those things make sense to me. Where state services are fair and equitable and the schools are better, even more diverse. The time to move on for the future of my daughter has come, Good bye Kansas.
I should clarify my remarks about Texas, I am speaking in general. I do understand Texas has many challenges Kansas does not have, such as the number of english as a second language kids in secondary educational settings. My point is that Kansans took great pride in the education kids got here until Brownback/Laffer took over, and things may never get any better.
I have not moved yet, but I am working with a realtor in the city where I plan to move. My house goes on the market in a few weeks, but I would rather it sit empty and feel safe than stay here and watch the state fall upon its sword of ignorance.