Jeff Colyer started his first full day as governor with some good financial news, though officials were quick to soften expectations for the months to come.
The Kansas Department of Revenue announced Thursday that the state topped tax collection estimates for January by $165 million. Total tax collections for the fiscal year have now come in $248.6 million above estimates, according to the report.
“My thoughts are, don’t spend it yet,” said House Majority Leader Don Hineman, a Dighton Republican. “We know two things, part of it is real and part of it is just a matter of timing of receipts due to changes in federal and state level tax policy. We’re not sure how much is in each of those two buckets right now.”
The financial boost comes amid a series of tax changes in Kansas after lawmakers in June passed a tax increase that rolled back former Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts.
But state lawmakers are still facing a tough budget situation as they approach an April deadline from the Kansas Supreme Court to find a way to adequately fund Kansas schools.
“The bottom line is, we need to temper our expectations for the remaining months in the fiscal year,” Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said in a statement Thursday. “While the report is positive ... we cannot assume that the state genuinely will have more revenue by fiscal year end. This is not a windfall.”
The positive financial development is a stark contrast to what Brownback dealt with during the final years of his administration, before the tax increase was pushed into law over his veto.
The state frequently failed to meet revenue projections and criticism of Brownback’s tax cuts mounted during his second term.
“That’s good for the state,” House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat running for governor, said about the January figures. “And it makes it easier to solve some of the problems.”