The Buzz

Kansas lawmakers begin digging into state budget issues

As the week builds toward Gov. Sam Brownback’s state of the state address, lawmakers were briefed Tuesday about the state’s fiscal health.

With a generally light statehouse agenda leading up to governor’s annual address to the Legislature, the House Appropriations Committee began digging into the state’s financial situation Tuesday morning.

Analysts walked the committee through the effects of the income tax cuts that Brownback signed into law in 2012 and 2013.

They also revealed that oil revenues are dropping because of declining prices at the gas pump and that gaming revenues are down because of an under-performing casino near Wichita.

Overall, tax cuts enacted in 2012 and 2013 are projected to cost the state nearly $5 billion cumulatively from fiscal year 2013 through 2019, legislative research numbers show.

The tax cuts are blamed for leaving the state with a $700 million hole that lawmakers must fill for 2015 and 2016.

Meanwhile, analysts said the state is not benefiting as much as expected from the Missouri Lime oil play. Oil and gas revenues are now expected to drop about $11 million between fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2017.

Brownback is expected to lay out his plans for patching the state budget when he addresses lawmakers Thursday night.

There is a lot of statehouse chatter that Brownback will ask the Legislature to find new sources of revenues, possibly by raising taxes on alcohol and cigarettes.

Many lawmakers are eagerly waiting to hear Brownback detail his plans for dealing with the budget deficit left by the tax cuts.

“There is anticipation,” said state Rep. Marvin Kleeb, an Overland Park Republican and chairman of the House tax committee. “We are expecting the governor to have a blueprint and a direction of where to go on expenditures and the tax side of things.”

To reach Brad Cooper, call 816-234-7724 or send email to bcooper@kcstar.com.

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