Call it a cautionary tale of two states’ finances.
In one, tax revenues are flowing in stronger than in previous years. While not flush with income, this state’s legislators are not having to slash spending on public services.
In the other state, however, income tax revenues have plummeted. Lawmakers are scrambling to fund schools, pensions and social services.
The first state is Missouri, where officials recently announced that total revenue collections were 7 percent higher in the first 10 months of the 2015 fiscal year compared with the same time period in 2014.
The state with the pressing fiscal problems, of course, is Kansas, which for more than a year has been struggling with the effects of the costly income tax cuts put in place by Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature. They are draining about $800 million a year from state government, damaging its ability to provide high quality amenities and services for residents.
The cuts also have forced Kansas to borrow heavily from its tax-supported highway fund and — this week — to begin debating a host of new tax increases on gasoline, cigarettes and liquor, along with other ideas to boost revenue.
Missouri in 2014 approved its own irresponsible tax cuts, but they don’t take effect for more than a year and aren’t as drastic as those in Kansas. Missouri also is not living in flush times; state workers on Wednesday protested the fact they aren’t scheduled to get raises in the 2016 budget.
However, Kansas remains in far worse shape because of tax cuts that need to be repealed before even more damage is done to the state’s future.