Sam Brownback’s tax cuts now full-blown disaster for Kansans

06/02/2014 10:41 AM

06/03/2014 2:23 PM

Even in the make-believe world of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and other tax-cut advocates who like to ignore reality, Friday’s news about plunging state revenues was an utter disaster.

It was a disaster for several million Kansans who depend on tax revenues to pay for public services such as schools and roads.

And it was a disaster for Brownback as he gets ready to run for re-election.

The state said it collected $217 million less in taxes than it expected.

That came on top of being $93 million short of estimates in April.

In short, the state is bringing in less money because of lower taxes. Seems pretty simple to figure out.

Moody’s downgraded Kansas’ bond rating after April’s dismal report. What could the bond ratings agencies do with May’s meek numbers in hand?

In both months, Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan has trotted out to claim these aren’t real problems, that they can be blamed on federal tax policies that caused people to claim taxable gains in 2012, lessening their potential taxable incomes in 2013.

Here’s a story that looks at what happened nationally; many states did indeed see lower income tax revenues, with Kansas having one of the worst drops in the nation with that $93 million shortfall.

(By the way, that wasn’t true for Missouri, which was down only slightly in April, and hasn’t released May’s numbers yet.)

“The big chunk should be over,” Jordan said Friday. “The big lug is done.”

Wait, what’s that?

Here’s what Jordan said last month, after the initial drop of “only” $93 million in real revenues vs. projected intake.

“Our budget is built on whether we are meeting the estimates,” Jordan said at the time, “which tells you what’s happening with the budget.”

OK, Nick, here’s what is happening with the state budget: Overall, the state is now 6 percent short — or $310 million — of what it had projected to take in from last July through May.

That’s a large number, large enough it may force Brownback to start having to consider cuts in state services. As colleague Barb Shelly points out, that would be a tough thing to have to do when locked in a re-election battle, likely with Democrat Paul Davis, this November.

The tax cuts are causing harm to Kansans, as long predicted. And they may cost Brownback his governorship, which until recently had not been prognosticated.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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