Topeka Kansas tax revenue to fund state government continues to fall because of Gov. Sam Brownback's tax cuts, but administration officials maintained that the state budget is in good shape and that the governor's policies are helping the economy.
State budget experts met Thursday to revise earlier revenue projections for the current fiscal year and for the fiscal year starting July 1.
The new numbers immediately became the focus of the upcoming election season.
The revisions showed that the state will collect nearly $178 million more in revenues than previously projected through June 2015.
"These numbers all confirm that the governor's priorities of growing the economy and controlling spending continue to bear fruits," said Jon Hummell, Brownback's interim budget director.
But the numbers also show that total tax receipts to the state on an annual basis are dropping from $6.33 billion last year to $5.97 billion this year, and then staying relatively flat next year at $6.05 billion.
House Minority Leader Paul Davis, the likely Democratic candidate for governor, said the revenue figures show that Brownback's tax cuts have failed to grow the economy. Brownback approved cuts in state income tax rates and exempting non-wage income from state income taxes for hundreds of thousands of business owners.
"Kansans want leadership that listens to what communities need to grow our economy, not a 'live experiment' that hurts schools and puts us at a competitive disadvantage," Davis said.
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said state revenue levels caused by the tax cuts in the face of increasing spending demands, such as what will be required to settle a school finance lawsuit, would crater the budget.
"The out years are going to put our state general fund into the tank," Hensley said.
But Hummell said the revenue forecasts will cover state spending over the long term "if you keep your spending under control."
When Brownback signed the tax cuts into law in 2012, he said they would be like an adrenaline shot to the Kansas economy.
Asked about that on Thursday, Hummell said, "How you quantify an adrenaline shot, I'm not sure about, but it's better this year than it was last year."
Overall, the state and national economy is improving from the Great Recession, officials said.
Raney Gilliland, director of the Kansas Legislative Research Department, said state personal income was expected to increase 3.8 percent.
The revenue forecasters include legislative researchers, members of Brownback's budget stuff, Department of Revenue officials and university economists.