Kansas governor seeks changes to revenue estimating process

Gov. Sam Brownback answers questions during a year-end, sit-down interview on Dec. 8, 2015, in his office at the Statehouse in Topeka.

? Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is seeking improvements to the revenue forecasting system after the state’s monthly estimates became overly optimistic during the past year.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Brownback’s administration said Monday that it’ll consult with experts in other states to identify potential changes. The state missed revenue targets for 11 out of the past 12 months, and long-range forecasts have been downgraded during the past two years.

“We are consulting with experts from other states to help identify possible process changes to increase the reliability of estimates going forward and will continue to do so until the process is improved,” said Eileen Hawley, the governor’s spokeswoman.

The governor’s critics say that it isn’t the estimating process, but the state’s tax policy, that’s at fault as revenues continue to drop. But Republicans have asserted that the national economy is to blame.

In February, for instance, revenue was $53 million off estimates. The 15 percent difference was the largest miss since April 2014.

“This is an economic problem, not a tax policy problem,” Brownback said in response to the revenue report.

The state is scheduled to release the March revenue report Friday. If the trend holds, the amount of generated revenue will fall below estimates.

However, a review of the estimates shows that the monthly reports didn’t used to be as bleak. Between January 2013 and December 2014, revenue exceeded or met estimates 14 months, more than half of the time. But since then, revenues have only exceeded estimates in the months of February and November in 2015.

In the past, Brownback has made budget cuts in response to below-estimated revenue.