A Kansas legislative research report on Friday estimated Democrat Paul Davis’ proposal to freeze Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s income tax cuts would cost taxpayers $735 million through 2019.
His plan would also mean more money for an increasingly strapped state government.
The report was produced at the direction of Brownback’s Republican allies in the Legislature.
Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, has proposed freezing a second round of income tax cuts that Brownback signed into law in 2013. Those tax cuts followed tax reductions that Brownback pushed through in 2012.
The 2013 tax cuts are phased in from 2014 to 2018. Davis wants to freeze the tax cuts at the level they’ll reach in 2015 and postpone further reductions until education funding is restored to a pre-recession level.
The Brownback team jumped all over the new numbers, especially calculations showing that less affluent taxpayers would not enjoy the full extent of the income tax cuts passed last year. A spokesman called the report a “bombshell.”
“The effect of this so-called economic plan would be to make it harder for struggling Kansans to make ends meet and provide for their families. Kansans should be outraged,” Brownback spokesman John Milburn said in a statement.
Conservative lawmakers assailed Davis for opposing tax cuts that would help the poor.
Davis proposed freezing the tax cuts to patch a hole in the state budget following the loss of revenue from the lower tax levels, blamed for the state falling more than $300 million short of income projections for the last fiscal year.
Bond rating agencies have said the tax cuts left the state budget with a structural imbalance between revenues and expenses.
They downgraded the state’s credit rating because it hasn’t matched falling revenues with corresponding budget cuts, something that may come in the 2015 legislative session.
The bond rating agencies — Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s — have suggested that budget cuts will not be easy because of court-ordered spending on schools, an underfunded pension system and meeting demands of Medicaid spending.
Legislative forecasters predict the state will eventually eat through its reserves to a point where it will be facing a $238 million shortfall by 2016.
The Davis camp said the Brownback campaign’s pronouncement Friday was another sign the governor is out of touch with the state’s fiscal health.
“The evidence that Sam Brownback’s economic experiment has failed is undeniable,” Davis said in a statement.