TOPEKA Kansas collected $72 million more in taxes than anticipated in June, ending its budget year with a dose of good news just ahead of an income tax increase meant to keep the state operating in the black.
The Department of Revenue reported that the state took in $609 million in taxes last month, 13.5 percent more than the official projection of $537 million. The state’s tax collections through May were in line with a fiscal forecast issued the month before, and the state collected $5.82 billion during its 2017 fiscal year, 1.3 percent more than anticipated.
The surplus in June also allowed the state to end the fiscal year with tax collections about 1 percent ahead of the $5.76 billion collected in fiscal 2016. That’s only a small year-over-year gain, and had June not been so good, fiscal 2017 would have seen a slight drop in tax collections.
Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said growth in individual income tax revenues from fiscal 2016 suggested growth in wages and noted that unemployment has remained low, staying at 3.7 percent as of May. Corporate income and sales tax collections also exceeded expectations for the fiscal year.
“My hope is that such a robust performance in these major tax sources will continue into next fiscal year,” he said.
Lawmakers had expected to end the 2017 fiscal year with cash reserves of $50 million after they approved internal borrowing and some other moves to close a projected budget shortfall. They enacted the income tax increase over Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto to help balance the budget for fiscal 2018 and 2019.
The new tax law took effect Saturday and rolls back past income tax cuts championed by Brownback. Besides closing budget shortfalls, it’s meant to provide extra money to public schools to meet a state Supreme Court mandate on education funding.
The governor and his aides have sometimes been scathing in criticizing the tax increase on social media, suggesting it will dampen economic activity. State Sen. Laura Kelly, of Topeka, the ranking Democrat on the Senate budget committee, said she doubts the tax increase will stymie economic growth.
She’s also skeptical that June’s tax collections signal growth as much as Brownback’s administration suggested. Even with unemployment low, the state reported having 3,700 fewer private-sector jobs in May than in May 2016.
Still, Kelly said of the revenue surplus, “It’s better than bad news.”