Bet Gov. Sam Brownback is enjoying this news with a big smile on his face: Just-released federal figures Friday morning showed a stunning surge of jobs in October in Kansas.
The state gained 8,400 jobs in the month according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s more than the paltry number Kansas added during the first nine months of the year, or 7,900 jobs.
Brownback, who was re-elected on Nov. 4 to another four-year term, has been promising for the last few years that income tax cuts he approved would attract lots of new employees.
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That largely hasn’t happened. In fact, through September, Kansas trailed 31 other states in job growth since January of 2013, which is when the tax cuts took effect.
And just to temper Brownback’s victory dance, here’s some more reality.
Even after the huge addition of jobs in October, the employment growth rate in Kansas since January of 2013 trails three of its four neighboring states, according to BLS numbers.
▪ Colorado, up 4.8%
▪ Oklahoma, up 3.1%
▪ Missouri, up 2.9%
▪ Kansas, up 2.4%
▪ Nebraska, up 1.8%
If the Kansas jobs growth figure is accurate, it should help boost tax collections at least a little bit in the state.
But that also brings us to the still-concerning news for Brownback and, more notably, the people of Kansas.
State officials said recently they expect the income tax cuts to slash revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars more than once expected.
As a result, the state likely will blow through the entire $380 million rainy day fund it had as of the start of the fiscal year in mid-2014. Then, the state will still have to cut about $280 million extra in expenses just to balance the budget by the end of this fiscal year in mid-2015.
The further concern is that the state also could have to slice another $400-million-plus out of the next fiscal year to balance the budget.
To be clear, Kansas has to add a lot more tax-paying employees to its rolls in the coming months to even make a dent in that shortfall.
October may be the start of something big for Kansas.
Or it could be a momentary statistical blip not to be repeated.