Archive for Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brownback seeks spending cap but details unsettled

January 17, 2012


— Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is floating a proposal to cap the annual growth in state spending at 2 percent — an idea with broad appeal among fellow conservatives — but said Tuesday that he'll leave the details of how best to accomplish it to the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Brownback said during a brief interview with The Associated Press that he's not proposing to amend the Kansas Constitution to limit spending growth, a past goal of Americans for Prosperity and other anti-tax, small-government groups. His aides have suggested the administration will pursue a law, but Brownback would say only that he'll work with lawmakers.

Democrats and less conservative Republicans are wary of the proposal, saying it could prevent the state from adequately funding its public schools or keeping up with the rising costs of social services. But in his annual State of the State address earlier this month, Brownback said a cap on spending would allow the state to keep cutting income taxes, stimulating economic growth.

"We'll work with the Legislature on how they see fit to do it," Brownback told the AP. "I really wanted to put the marker out there."

Brownback has proposed overhauling the state's individual income tax code, cutting rates but eliminating tax credits and deductions. In his State of the State speech, he said the state would then devote additional revenues to income tax cuts, moving Kansas closer to other states with no income tax.

Prominent conservative Republicans in the House, where caps on state spending have been proposed most often in the past, said they're not yet aware of anyone working on a bill. House Speaker Mike O'Neal said a cap on spending could become part of the legislation containing Brownback's tax plan.

Derrick Sontag, state director for Americans for Prosperity, said the group would settle for a law limiting spending. It prefers a constitutional amendment, but such a measure must be adopted by two-thirds majorities in both chambers before it could get on the statewide ballot for possible approval by a simple majority of voters.

"You really can't have effective tax reform unless you have limited, controlled government spending," said Sontag, whose wife is Brownback's communications director.

Brownback's proposed budget for the fiscal year calls for spending a little less than $6.1 billion in general state tax revenues during the fiscal year that begins July 1, slightly less than under the current budget. But the growth in spending financed by those revenues has averaged 4.6 percent over the past 20 years, even with two recessions since 2001.

Senate President Steve Morris, a moderate Hugoton Republican, noted that the state has committed to increasing its contribution to the pension system for teachers and government workers to close a long-term funding gap. That promise will make a 2 percent cap on spending growth difficult, he said.

Other legislators said even with a plan from Brownback to overhaul the Medicaid program providing health coverage for the needy, its costs are likely to rise significantly more than 2 percent each year.

"There are some years that we have obligations that want to be able to meet," said Rep. Jerry Henry, a Cummings Democrat who serves on the House Appropriations Committee. "We have to meet some needs of the people before we think about what the cap is."


JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 4 months ago

Why is it that the most imaginative things the republican party can do is to cut taxes and thereby destroy government and our economy? We should learn from Colorado. TABOR is a bad idea.

ignatius_j_reilly 6 years, 4 months ago

I haven't looked into this idea in the least, but your critiques are off point. Good government doesn't need to be imaginative; it needs to be effective and positive. Cutting taxes does destroy government, but it does not necessarily destroy economy (in fact, it mostly does the opposite, but you could argue that it causes more unfairness in the distribution of wealth). We have no obligation to save non-tax-paying government, but we do have an obligation to save tax-paying free market economies.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 4 months ago

Private sector goods are moved on public roads, are protected by public law enforcement and public fire departments and public courts. Future employees are educated at public schools and colleges. The economy couldn't function without government making it possible. Destroying government will destroy the economy.

ignatius_j_reilly 6 years, 4 months ago

No, you're off-point again, this time by generalizing too far. All governments, even the Kansas state gov't., are massive. Cutting percentages of revenue don't mean the whole thing is gone, wholesale, it means certain programs need to be cut back. In theory, this is when states do soul-searching to find what is most important (and this is where roads, fire depts., and public schools should be the last things standing), cut the fat, and move on more efficiently. In the short term, it means reduced benefits or programs (bad), but in the long term, it means more efficient government and more room for free markets to make money (and pay more taxes).

Phillbert 6 years, 4 months ago

We already have a system for setting the spending levels in our state government. It is called the Kansas Legislature.

If legislators can't trust themselves to decide how much to spend, then the solution isn't an artificial cap, it's new legislators.

question4u 6 years, 4 months ago

There's a little thing called inflation, Sam. You can find out about it in any introductory textbook on economics, or if that's too much trouble, you can try Wikipedia. Then apply a little logic (you can find out what that is on Wikipedia too). Then you may be able to see why your little idea needs to be thought out on a more complex level. Sure, complex thinking isn't your strong point, but why not at least give it a try?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

"Brownback said a cap on spending would allow the state to keep cutting income taxes, stimulating economic growth."

The more of OUR tax dollars pulled from the economy the less economic growth takes place. Medical care and public education dollars drive the state economy with gusto therefore more should be directed to those wise investments.

cowboy 6 years, 4 months ago

The daily release of programs without details from the romper room governor. Is it too much to ask of the idiot in chief to hire an accountant to vet his hair brained ideas prior to heaping them on the good citizens of Kansas ? Its pretty simple Sam , run the numbers and take a educated look at the impacts . Or in language you can understand , its ready , aim , fire , NOT fire , aim , ready.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

"Democrats and less conservative Republicans are wary of the proposal, saying it could prevent the state from adequately funding its public schools or keeping up with the rising costs of social services. But in his annual State of the State address earlier this month, Brownback said a cap on spending would allow the state to keep cutting income taxes, stimulating economic growth."

The sole purpose for this proposal is to gradually defund education and social service programs in order to give tax reductions to the wealthy and the corporations they own, and there will be no attempt to tie these cuts to "economic growth." It's class warfare, pure and simple.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 4 months ago

Bozo: Not sure about 'class warfare,' but clearly this is the drill. Defund government, privatize as much as possible and give the contracts to your buddies (See Iraq war and NCLB for good examples of how this worked for BUSHCO) and use "faith-based" groups (the right faiths, of course) so soak up taxpayer funds. Schools and the safety net are of no use to the Americans for Prosperity or the C-Street Cult. Read some of Doug Coe's stuff if you want more. He's Muscular Sam's prophet.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the opportunity, Nancy Boy. President Obama: Get out of Afghanistan now; reconfigure the government agencies; quit following BUSHCO's older policies; stand up to the R's and veto their dumb ideas; get rid of the "Patriot" Act and homeland security; tell the D's to grow up and actually put together a real budget with real numbers; tax Capital Gains at the same rate as regular income; take the cap of Social Security income limits and have people pay on all their income and raise taxes a little bit on everyone in the country. That should keep him busy until the election.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 4 months ago

Cop out. The governor looks good without having to back up his initiative.

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