Archive for Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Editorial: Revenue key

Election likely to hinge on Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax policies — and for good reason.

September 6, 2016

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Tax revenue trends in the state of Kansas continue to register alarms.

Last week, the state announced that revenues for August came in more than $10 million short of projections, the third consecutive month that revenues have been $10 million or more short of estimates. That’s not a good sign for the state budget and a terrible trend for many Republican lawmakers running for re-election.

Remember back in May when Gov. Sam Brownback finished the 2016 legislative session by ordering $97 million in cuts in order to balance the budget for this fiscal year? State officials estimated at that time that if revenues came in as projected, the state would end the 2017 fiscal year with a balance of $93 million in the general fund.

Just 90 days after those cuts were announced, revenues are already $57 million short of projections, meaning that $93 million general fund balance has been whittled down to $35 million.

If the state’s budget problems weren’t daunting enough, the state faces a school finance lawsuit that could cost as much as $500 million a year in additional funding for K-12 education. The Kansas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in that case Sept. 21, and a ruling is expected in early 2017.

Kansas Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan blamed August’s shortfall on lagging corporate, sales and use tax receipts. Jordan, who has served as secretary of revenue throughout Brownback’s almost six-year tenure, has become adept at identifying reasons for the state’s monthly tax revenue shortfalls. Sometimes it’s sluggish national trends or unanticipated tax refunds. One month it was layoffs in the aviation and agriculture industries. On multiple occasions it has been lagging sales tax collections and corporate income tax shortfalls.

What it has never been, at least not from Jordan’s perspective, is the state’s tax structure, particularly the steep income tax cuts that Brownback and the Republican leadership implemented in 2012 and doubled down on in 2013.

But where Jordan won’t go, Democrats and moderate Republicans happily will. “This is another indication that Kansans need to speak up by voting in November to replace those legislators who have rubber stamped Sam Brownback’s irresponsible agenda,” Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley said last week after the August numbers were reported.

As the August primaries have already revealed, November’s elections are likely to hinge on the impacts of Brownback’s tax policies. That’s as it should be — lawmakers should be judged on the ideas and policies they support.

Two more revenue reports are due before the election. A lot is riding on what they reveal.

Comments

beth newman 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It's all about control. All across the country schools are closing for years now,teachers continue to be laid off,while 60% of the schools kids don't get near enough to eat on a daily basis. Try teaching children while wondering weather you will be employed in the future. Disgusting.

Lawrence Freeman 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I can't help but wonder why no one ever talks about how the debt per person has grown under brownback and cronies. Kansas DPP was around 2'000 when brownback took office, it's now pushing 10,000.

Tony Peterson 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm predicting that on Election Day there will be a slaughter of Republican incumbents who are Browncrack supporters. What happened in the primary was just the beginning of the ouster. There will be two more disastrous revenue reports before Election Day and the one for October will come out exactly one week before people vote. By then most if not all of the remaining $35 million will have been wiped out.

If the revenue shortfall at the end of this month is in the $10-$15 million range again Browncrack will have to make more budget cuts in October and that will be the nail in the coffin for their chances of being re-elected.

Richard Heckler 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Why would anyone ever vote republican again.

Not only do they steal our tax dollars they also declare war on women and declare war on people's personal lives. The republican party members have become so evil.

They have declared war on Social Security Insurance which could cost the USA $ 4 trillion tax dollars and place the economy at further risk.

They have declared war on Medicare Insurance.

They increase the cost of medical insurance thus the cost of health care.

They have declared war on public education which will place our economy in peril and ruin a perfectly acceptable approach to educating our young people that many other countries have adopted. Some of these countries are appalled at how the conservatives are trying to destroy public education.

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