The Buzz

August 15, 2013

Brownback’s office addresses Kansas revenue riddle

Budget director claims tax, spending decisions have helped the state’s budget, employment, businesses.

The Buzz

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(Editor’s note: The column below was submitted by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s office following the Buzz post about Kansas revenue called “The Kansas revenue riddle.” It’s from Steve Anderson, the governor’s budget director.

We’re publishing the full response. There are alternate ways of looking at some of the statistics in his piece, which we’ll pursue at a later date.

After asking the governor’s office for clarification on some of the numbers, they sent us a response that included this: “The challenge here is that looking at any one single data line will not show the comprehensive picture.”

We would agree, both for what we write and the response.)

From Steve Anderson:

As Governor Sam Brownback enters the final year of his first term some continue to question the path he has chosen for our great state. They wonder where this path will lead us. Will cutting taxes really create jobs, grow the economy, and raise the standard of living of all Kansans? Will there be sufficient revenues to the state’s coffers to ensure that our children are well educated and prepared to enter the work force ready to compete? Will Kansas be able to maintain infrastructure and public safety if state government has fewer resources?

As a certified public accountant I have spent my career looking at sets of data and asking myself what they tell me about an organization. The citizens of Kansas should look to the data for answers concerning the Kansas economy.

When I joined Governor Brownback’s team as budget director in 2010, this is what I found:

• Cash Balance for FY-2010: $876.05

• FY-2011 Projected deficit: $500,000,000

• Unemployment rate: 6.9%

• Tax burden: 2nd highest in the region

• Population Loss: 10% decrease in half the counties.

There was little disagreement that these facts did not bode well for the future of Kansas. A bold new direction for our state was needed. Governor Brownback formed the “Growth Team” within his Administration. I, along with the Secretaries of Commerce, Revenue, Transportation and Agriculture, have served on that team for almost three years now.

Working with the legislature, we have blazed a new trail for the future of our state. We have significantly reduced the burden on every person who pays income tax in Kansas and in the process, returned nearly $250 Million into the paychecks of wage earners providing them more control of their own money.

We also unleashed the power of our small businesses, the heart and soul of our economy, by eliminating their income taxes to encourage and support business expansion and hiring. We have balanced the state budget, while increasing the state’s investment on K-12 education by more than $239 Million from FY-2010 to FY-2014. We have continued to build and maintain the highways of our great state. We are building a state of the art crime lab for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to support law enforcement efforts across the state.

To those with concerns about this new course I would encourage you to look at the data. As of Aug. 5, 2013, they are as follows:

• Cash Balance for FY-2013: $587,800,000

• FY-2014 Projected surplus: $509,700,000

• Unemployment rate: 5.8%

• Tax burden: 2nd lowest in the region and going lower

• Job Growth: 45,300

• Population Growth 27,068

We have set the stage for the citizens of Kansas to compete in a global economy. Our primary competitors, surrounding states, have taken notice. And they should. The Kansas portion of the Kansas City Metro area gained 9,500 jobs from May 2012 to May 2013 while the Missouri side registered no change in total nonfarm employment over the year. Employment on the Kansas side of the metro area reached 454,800 and surpassed the all-time high of 452,800 recorded in June 2008. Those are real jobs for real Kansans, supporting real families.

No one knows for sure what the future will hold. But today, the economy of Kansas is strong and growing stronger, our children are being well educated, essential services are being maintained or improved, and our government has a healthy ending balance. For the first time in many years, people are moving back to rural Kansas. We are changing our future. And for those who have questions, look at the data. Answers abound.

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