The Slatest

Gov. Sam Brownback Takes Abortion Law on Road Trip Around His Crumbling State

Sam Brownback hit the road this week to share the good news with Kansas.

Photo by Larry W. Smith/Getty Images

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is something of a conservative pioneer. His bold “experiment” in taxation and budgeting—with its escalating series of dramatic tax cuts paid for by plundering funds for social welfare programs, public schools, and infrastructure—is the platonic ideal of the “dynamic scoring” movement among fiscal conservatives.

But lest you think Brownback is all about the numbers, he’s no slouch on the social issues, and he’s taking it to the streets to make sure the people of Kansas know it. From WDAF-TV in Kansas City:

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will visit four cities in Kansas Tuesday morning to sign a bill that will make Kansas the first state in the nation to ban a controversial abortion procedure.

Gov. Brownback officially signed the bill three weeks ago, but he is visiting different cities to re-enact the signing. The list of cities includes Lenexa, Pittsburg, Wichita and Hays.

The “controversial abortion procedure” whose banning Brownback is celebrating with his re-enactment road trip is the D&C, or “dialation and curettage,” and there is a good reason that Kansas would be the first in the nation to ban it: it is sometimes a necessary medical treatment, even for women who aren’t pregnant.

Brownback’s opposition to abortion seems to trump even his fiscal conservatism, since he is enacting the D&C ban in spite of the hit on Kansas’s bottom line.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt told legislators last week that his office could need up to $50,000 by the end of June, another $100,000 to $200,000 during the fiscal year beginning July 1 and up to $200,000 more for the following fiscal year…

His office already has paid outside attorneys $1.2 million to defend other anti-abortion laws enacted since Brownback took office in January 2011.

It is inspiring that Brownback can find half a million dollars to defend his extreme stand on abortion at a time when Kansas schools are closing early for lack of funds, the roads are falling apart, and Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded the state’s bond rating due to the sketchy budget shenanigans it has employed to try to keep the lights on. Moody’s summed it up:  

The downgrade reflects… the use of non-recurring measures to balance the budget, revenue reductions (resulting from tax cuts) which have not been fully offset by recurring spending cuts, and an underfunded retirement system for which the state is not making actuarially required contributions. In recent years the state has appropriated funds from or shifted costs to the State Highway Fund to help balance the general fund budget.

Brownback’s abortion-bill roadshow is an innovative way to connect with the public, but his original signing ceremony did a great job on its own of communicating his priorities for the state.