It looks like state Sen. Jacob LaTurner is reaping the rewards for supporting Gov. Sam Brownback’s policies.
On Tuesday, Gov. Brownback named the Pittsburg Republican to fill the state treasurer’s job held by Ron Estes. LaTurner will take over when Estes leaves for Washington, D.C. LaTurner plans to seek a full four-year term as treasurer in the 2018 election.
Estes, who holds degrees in civil engineering and business administration, will become a representative in Congress for the Fourth District, replacing Mike Pompeo who President Donald Trump named to head the CIA.
Estes had years of experience in consulting and management in industry. He formerly served as Sedgwick County treasurer before being named state treasurer in 2010. His experience made him qualified to be state treasurer.
LaTurner’s experience is skimpy. LaTurner is a political science major with limited small business experience. He has political experience, which Brownback must prefer to someone who can do the job.
LaTurner has been a strong, conservative supporter of Brownback and his 2012 tax initiative that ruined the state’s economy and caused the governor to raid Kansas Department of Transportation funding for highway and bridge improvements to balance budgets. This sanctioned thievery will set back the current highway improvement program and delay maintenance and other work on roads we travel every day. Perhaps the governor thinks our roads and bridges can stand the deterioration.
LaTurner worked for Lynn Jenkins when she was state treasurer.
As a lawmaker since 2013, LaTurner worked to keep Brownback’s 2012 tax cut plan intact and didn’t support Medicaid expansion. The program rolled back business income taxes as a way to promote growth in the Kansas economy, but it failed and the state has suffered years of revenue shortfalls.
The 2017 Legislature attempted to override Brownback’s veto of a reform measure to that failed tax plan. The House had the votes to override, including Rep. Richard Proehl’s support. The Senate was another story. Sen. Dan Goddard of Parsons voted to override the veto, but LaTurner voted no on the override. The vote in the Senate required a two-thirds majority and failed to get that. So failed policy remains the law of Kansas.
Do you think LaTurner knew on Feb. 22, when the Senate veto override failed, that Brownback would reward his “no” and past support with an appointment to Estes’ job? As a Republican, Estes expected to win the Wichita congressional seat in the April 11 election, even though the Democratic challenger put up a good fight.
LaTurner also is the author of the property tax lid law, which restricts counties and cities from increasing property taxes beyond the rate of inflation starting this year. This means that any significant future budget increases will require an election. The state previously had a tax lid law in place, though governments could use charter authority to exempt themselves from it.
Schools and community colleges aren’t governed by the tax lid.
So while games continue in Kansas government, Kansans wither under their political leaders’ failings and short-sightedness.
Maybe the next state senator from Crawford, Bourbon and Cherokee counties will do better for Kansas than LaTurner has.