Two Kansas Republicans — one running for re-election, the other for higher office — both claim to have led the way in cutting the Kansas state budget. These claims, however, are at odds with the facts and both candidates’ records.
Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf is a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas. A television advertisement states that she “led the effort in the Senate to cut over $1 billion from the state budget.”
In Kansas House District 83 in east Wichita, Jo Ann Pottorff is seeking re-election. In a Wichita Eagle advertisement, she made a similar claim to Schodorf, stating “I forced state government to live within its means by cutting $1 billion in excess spending and voting down attempts to grow government by more than $185 million.”
There are a few ways to look at these claims. First, both of these politicians have big-spending and big-taxing records. In any sort of legislative vote rating system that rewards fiscally conservative votes, these two women rank very low year after year. Both voted for the spending programs that grew Kansas spending so much over the last five years that cuts in the rate of growth were necessary this year.
But these “cuts” were not cuts in actual spending. They were cuts in planned spending. The budget that both candidates voted for this year increased state spending by $200 million over the past year.
By the way, both candidates voted to increase the statewide sales tax this year. They attempt to justify this vote by saying that if the state didn’t increase taxes, it would force local governments and school districts to increase property taxes.
That would be the case only if schools kept spending at current levels. There are plenty of things schools could have done to save money — including implementing school choice programs which save money — but neither of these candidates considered that politically feasible. Their generous campaign contributions from the school spending lobby may have helped form their thinking on this issue.
In the chart below, you can see that Pottorff has had a few years in which she earned respectable vote ratings. But Schodorf has not.
Voters who desire conservative candidates should not be fooled by the efforts of both Schodorf and Pottorff to portray themselves as fiscally conservative legislators. It may turn out that their constituents prefer their left-wing voting records, and it’s the right of voters to do so. But voters should understand the choice they’re faced with.