Government & Politics

Kansas revenue tops estimates, but $342 million shortfall still looms

Kansas expected to take in $595.3 million for the month of December, but actually collected $601.5 million. That was roughly 1 percent above estimates.
Kansas expected to take in $595.3 million for the month of December, but actually collected $601.5 million. That was roughly 1 percent above estimates.

Kansas took in more revenue than expected in December, which brought the state’s expected budget shortfall down to about $342 million.

The Kansas Department of Revenue on Tuesday announced the monthly figures, which topped state estimates for the second straight month. Collections came in about $6.2 million above estimates.

Individual income tax collections topped estimates by $10.2 million, according to the state, and retail sales tax collections came in about $5.2 million above projections.

But corporate income tax collections were about $5.3 million below estimates, and the cigarette tax was short by $3.7 million.

“Through December the state receipts are in line with revised projections,” acting Secretary of Revenue Sam Williams said in an emailed statement. “I am encouraged by that fact. I am hopeful that the sales tax increase year over year is an indication that purchasing power is returning to our agriculture and oil and gas sector.”

State officials lowered revenue estimates late last year, which put the state on track for a roughly $350 million shortfall. Kansas then beat those new estimates later that month, putting a small dent into a shortfall that still stood around $348 million.

The state expected to take in $595.3 million for December, but actually collected $601.5 million. That was roughly 1 percent above estimates.

Rep. Jim Ward, the incoming House minority leader, said that it was nice financial news but doesn’t change the problem lawmakers will face next week when the legislative session starts.

“This does not show that the tax experiment is working,” said Ward, a Wichita Democrat. “This is a situation where a broken clock is right twice a day.”

Incoming House Majority Leader Don Hineman noted the receipts were larger than the previous month’s but said it’s “not a problem solver.”

“It’s nice to see a positive number instead of a negative number,” said Hineman, a Dighton Republican. “The trend is good, but the number is not all that impressive.”

Gov. Sam Brownback has said he will not release a plan to solve the shortfall until lawmakers return Jan. 9 to start the legislative session. Brownback will give his state-of-the-state speech the next day.

Tuesday’s report also was the first since Williams took over the revenue secretary role. The governor’s office announced early last month that Williams, a Wichita businessman who led Brownback’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Workgroup, was replacing Nick Jordan in the leadership role. Williams faces confirmation by the state Senate.

Hunter Woodall: 785-354-1388, @HunterMw

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