“Laboratory of Democracy” – Kansas Public Policy Changes Prompt National Media Attention

In 1932 Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis suggested, in the federal system, states could serve as laboratories of democracy and “ try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” This notion has been popularized over the intervening 80 years as a metaphor for federalism and the role of states in “experimenting” with public policy which may then find broader application throughout the rest of the country. Over the past few weeks the national media spotlight has turned to Kansas as one such “laboratory of democracy” with particular focus on Gov. Brownbacks’s proposed “glide path” to zero state income taxes.

This morning NPR’s Morning Edition spend some time on the Governor’s tax policy proposal, asking “Will it Work?”  The NPR piece follows on the heals of an “above the fold” front page story in the Wall Street Journal – “Party Eyes ‘ Red-State Model’ to Drive Republican Revival” – focused on the role state public policy proposals in Kansas could play in the future of the GOP nationally.  While debate and discussion continues within the state, it is interesting to see how changes within our state are being viewed by the rest of the nation.

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