The budget crisis in Topeka is affecting the services that Johnson County government can provide its citizens.
This is happening because Gov. Sam Brownback and the GOP-controlled Legislature slashed income taxes four years ago. About $650 million a year in revenue vanished.
Since then, desperate to balance their budget, Brownback and lawmakers have curtailed spending in different areas while also forcing through other thoughtless actions that affect local governments.
Here are a few examples:
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▪ The state has cut Medicaid reimbursements, which means the county has to reduce funding for its health and human services agencies.
▪ The state says the county has to phase out collection of a mortgage registration collection fee that once brought in more than $15 million a year. The estimate for the coming fiscal year is $6.5 million, followed by $3.2 million the next. Then — poof — the money is gone.
Johnson County Manager Hannes Zacharias said decisions in Topeka would cause a loss of $45 million in the next year, or slightly less than 5 percent of the proposed $942 million 2016-17 budget.
State officials never predicted this negative outcome. Led by Brownback, conservative Republicans said the tax cuts would lead to more jobs and would create enough new taxes to make up for the lost revenue.
That hasn’t come close to happening in the real world.
Last week, state officials announced that jobs in Kansas had actually fallen by 0.1 percent over the last 12 months, the sixth worst rate in the nation.
Johnson County is suffering because of the mistakes made in Topeka. Voters in August and November will need to replace many of the state lawmakers who helped create this economic crisis.